Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: philosophy Page 1 of 8

Stress: Considering Ways to Stay Sane

My Dad got me thinking yesterday about ways to stay sane in this climate of stress and anxiety. This starts negative but stay with me a moment.

stress
My Dad, My Brother, and Me (1975ish)

There are days (more and more of them lately) that I want to cry for humanity. It’s usually the day that (for some reason unfathomable to myself) I decide to open a news channel and read a few articles. Between the inflammatory headlines, that I swear are written by a catchy headline generator, and the piss-poor journalism…ugg…I just can’t.

And then there are the social media posts and comments that lead me to believe that there are few people online that are trying to make sense of the world and create a better life for themselves. It seems we are all more interested in creating and fighting a war between factions than understand each other. We’re all flying colors instead of asking questions.

What’s wrong with us? Have we all lost our minds? Is this how civilization gets thrown back into the dark ages again? Maybe.

Then I read more history and see the bigger picture. It’s always the end of the world according to the news media. The government is always reaching for more power. And the people, in general, don’t have a firm grip on reality. The only difference between now and the past is that the information moves much quicker and the whole world can be reported on at once. And that may very well spell disaster, but no more than it ever has before.

The reality is that everything changes, everything ends. Wars start and end. Atrocities are committed. Tyranny looms up. A rebellion begins. All sides believe they are doing what needs to be done to make the world better. Have you seen Star Wars?

And among all of that, here we are, the individual, trying to live our lives as best we can.

I’ve turned off the news completely. No, I don’t know who killed who, what country might invade another, what disease is spreading now, or how much of California is burning. There is absolutely nothing I can do about those things on any given day. And it seems that knowing all that information is putting everyone around me at such a heightened sense of risk awareness that they live constantly in fight or flight mode.

I don’t have time to finish this thought today, but I’m posting this anyway to hold the thought. Today is my “calling day.” It’s my stress reliever, that day that I visit friends and catch up. Yes, in person. While I’m out, I’ll be thinking about how I’d like to move forward. How do I respond to this world? How do I live without causing more stress to those around me? How do I protect myself now and leave a better world for my children’s children at the same time?

The Usual Suspects: Podcast Roundup #6

The usual suspects were heard on by drive this week. Due to some…just…lovely…construction on the highway, another hour was added to my drivetime once again. No problem for me! It just means another podcast episode. Yay!

Just in case anyone from CalTrans might be reading, though: There has got to be a better way to repair the one highway in and out of a small town. Like, what if we just used one side while you repaired the other, instead of one lane stopping and crawling while you move equipment in and out of the lane?

I get it. It does need repair, desperately, and I’m grateful it’s being done. But there are a lot of people in this town that work down the hill every day and for the next month or so, the construction is adding an hour to their one-hour commute. The tension is building. I seriously sat there trying to project peace into these poor people the whole time I sat there inching along. And then there’s the poor construction guys in the hot sun with all the angry around. Man, what a mess. All the technology in the world and we can’t find a better way to do this? I think figuring this out would be a better use of time and energy than space travel.

One more thing before I dive into the “Roundup.”

My trail cam photos are so much fun. I’m posting some of them on my page Desert Photos: Enjoy the view, but I had to share this one here because it was so funny.

the usual suspects
THREE jack rabbits at the water bowl!

That one watching in the background looks like he’s smirking. Like he did something to the water and is just about to tell them and they’ll spit it out. “What the hell, Joe?! What’s wrong with you!?” And he’ll be rolling on his back laughing at them.

If anyone knows an EASY way to make a video of a couple hundred photos (like a fast slideshow), I’d love to hear about it. Sometimes the progression of the pictures is the best part, and I can only post photos right now.

Let’s get on with the show!

Secular Buddhism – #107 Learning to be Silent

Can you guess why I picked this one? Silence is not my strong suit. I have a lot to say, people! But the takeaway for me today was when he said, “Have you ever judged a person by what you see or experience in one instance?” Made me think, “Yes, I have.”

That guy that cut me off. That mother in the store. That fast food worker. I could go on and on. People are not horrible in general. Let’s give each other a break.

Philosophy Bites – Kathleen Stock on What is a Woman?

Made me think on issues I didn’t even realize were there. What is the dividing line that makes one “woman”? And maybe we’re going about this gender thing the wrong way?

Interesting article, “Ignoring Differences Between Men and Women Is the Wrong Way to Address Gender Dysphoria” on Quillette, if you’d rather read her work instead of listen to an interview about it.

BBC Radio: Books and Authors – Making it new? Literature of the Twenties Special

We’ve been talking about the similarities between the 1910’s and the 2010’s for a while now. Will the 20’s continue in the same vein? I’m all for “roaring” but maybe we can avoid “depression” and “war.”             I already have “Ulysses” by James Joyce sitting on by TBR shelf. I’m inspired to conquer it once again.

CATO Daily Podcast – Will Onerous Regulations Stay Gone After COVID?

Takeaway: If you can suspend a regulation because of an emergency, did you need the regulation in the first place? Or were you using government to protect the status quo?

BBC Radio: In Our Time, Philosophy – Marcus Aurelius

I liked this but didn’t listen to the whole thing. The interviewer kept trying to get them to read quotes from “Meditations,” but they kept going back to explaining him and arguing whether or not his work was philosophy or self-help. And what’s the difference? Something I’ll be looking at in a future post.

BBC Radio: Bookclub – Lissa Evans – Old Baggage

Suffragettes and old women friends! Yes, please! This one is a comedy, too. Bonus. What do you do when you’ve accomplished your goals and now you must move on? My ears perked up when I heard the author say, “The character had been treading water since they got the vote for women and was still trying to find her new thing.” Hey! That’s a bit like me!

Book Added to the TBR List: Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

Conversations with Coleman – Critical Race Theory with Christopher Rufo

This links to YouTube but you can listen on any podcast platform. The more I hear about this, the more I don’t like it. It seems to be building walls between people instead of bringing people together. I like what Christopher Rufo says about building up on commonalities instead of separating by differences.

And there you go!

Yeah, it is the usual suspects. I have the same six shows I listen to the most, but they lead me in such interesting directions. I know there’s more conversation to listen to out there. Do you have a favorite podcast? Let me know in the comments. Hearing yours will help me expand my influential input!

Media B.S. and Scientific…ahh, who am I kidding?!

Two quotes about media b.s. and scientific challenges from the essay “The Role of the Heretic” in the chapter “Other Aberrations” in The Roving Mind by Isaac Asimov.

“Supply the public with something amusing, that sounds scholarly, and that supports something it wants to believe, and surely you need nothing more.”

Sounds familiar. This is what we get from today’s “news,” social media, and politicians. When you ask anyone where they are getting their data, or what study or finding they are paraphrasing, you are accused of either not having an “open mind” or being “anti-science.”

“I hope scientific orthodoxies never remain unchallenged. Science is in far greater danger from an absence of challenge than from the coming of any number of even absurd challenges. Science, unchallenged, can become arthritic and senile, whereas the most absurd challenge may help to stir the blood and tone the muscles of the body of science.”

Unchallenged scientific orthodoxies are the same as religions. They both only wish to keep their power and control the masses so that things continue the way they want them to.

And…that’s all I’ve got today. Not very inspiring, I know.

The trouble this morning is that I promised myself I’d write SOMETHING every day and then post SOMETHING, even if it’s not worth posting. Do you think that’s too much? I’m talking about an hours’ worth of work each day. I really don’t think that is too much to ask of myself. But here we are…struggling to keep up.

And what about tomorrow? One day a week I leave the house at 7am to drive down the hill and visit friends. I don’t have time to write before I go. No big deal, right? I mean, it’s only one day and I have a legitimate reason. But I’ll have another this weekend when we leave on our mini vacation for our anniversary. That’s two days, maybe three.

My initial solution was to write two posts today and schedule one to come out tomorrow morning, but then I woke up angry and tired from a bad dream and just couldn’t get into writing anything at all. I decided what I really needed to get my brain off the dream and into work mode was some breakfast and coffee. Then I started texting a friend about that stupid dream. My mother-in-law called and asked me to pick something up at the store for her later. Then I thought, “Screw this. I’ll read some more and then write while my son needs the livingroom silent for his class.”

I showered, started the laundry, chatted with a friend, ate more tasty things (still thinking about a tasty lunch), sat down to my computer, and decided I needed to clean up some photo files first…

Yeah. You see where this is going.

But here I am now. FINALLY. At the laptop. Sitting in my bed instead of my office because it’s not comfy at all. My husband is working at his desk on the other side of the room. Luckily, he’s not on the phone right now.

My head hurts. I need more coffee. How long is that kid going to be in class?! The laundry will be done soon. It’s hot again today. I’m starting to think summer won’t end this year. First Covid bullshit and now infinite summer.

All of this angst is because I had a bad dream, a few of them in a row actually. I woke up tired and cranky. What I need is a nap and there is no room to hide in today.

But that’s ok because I DID write SOMETHING, and I am going to post it. For posterity, of course. And I believe I’m hilarious, especially when I’m being pissy. Win!

Go back to my first post, “The Roving Mind: New Read” to read more about this book.

To Sleep Like the Dead and Be Reborn Each Day

Ah…to sleep like the dead. Wouldn’t that be nice? But don’t we? Isn’t laying in bed, surrounding yourself in a comfort cocoon, and closing your eyes, a lot like death? Your breathing and heartrate slow, you cease movement, and your consciousness creeps closer to the other side. And then a few hours later, when we wake, and we are reborn into a whole new world of possibilities.

To sleep like the dead
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

“What a wonderfully complex thing! This simple seeming unity – the self! Who can trace its reintegration as morning after morning after morning we awaken, the flux and confluence of its countless factors interweaving, rebuilding, the dim first stirrings of the soul, the growth and synthesis of the unconscious to the sub-conscious, the sub-conscious to the dawning consciousness, until at last we recognize ourselves again. And as it happens to most of us after the night’s sleep, so it was with Graham at the end of his vast slumber. A dim cloud of sensation taking shape, a cloudy dreariness, and he found himself vaguely somewhere, recumbent, faint, but alive.”

When the sleeper wakes by Hg wells

A lot of “When the Sleeper Wakes” has been detailed descriptions of his surroundings and I have been getting a little weary of it to be honest, but then there are paragraphs like this. The connection between me and the author over 122 years, nearly as long as Graham had slept in the book, is why I love reading old books. Our civilization and culture may change, but what it means to be human doesn’t.

I don’t sleep well. I never have. I’ve always woken up a lot at night, even as child. I dream a lot, vivid and sometimes very frightful dreams, filled with anxiety and fear, longing, attempting to get things done or trying to connect with someone and failing. I do all the things you’re supposed to do to get a better night’s sleep: no alcohol, sleepy tea, no phones, reading or meditating before bed, winding down…everything.

I got one of those Fitbit things that monitors your heartrate and movement while you sleep. This is a typical evening for me.

I started wearing earplugs about two years ago. The smallest noises wake me up, and even though I did have to fight through the worry that not being able to hear while I sleep would be the death of me, I did get used to it and sleep a little better with them in. I’ve also taken to moving to the guest room if my husband’s snoring wakes me up. I don’t want to hurt his feelings and I do love being close to him, but I need to sleep.

The biggest help though, was acceptance (and naps). My body apparently knows how to sleep. No matter what the news articles say, everyone is different. My body rests this way. That realization was the game-changer. Suddenly, a bit of stress was released. I put less emphasis on the outcome of sleep and more on creating a relaxing evening routine, allowing myself to wake up and change my situation if I need to, and then letting the rest go. I feel more rested and that’s all that matters.

But naps, now THERE’S a whole different game! The paragraph that I quoted above is a perfect description of how I wake up from a short nap. It’s wild.

The best naps are on my bed (not in it), in the daytime, with a pillow over my eyes and the fan on. I put in my earplugs and then settle in. I lay there thinking, “There’s no way I’ll fall asleep. I’m not even tired and I’ve had SO much coffee this morning.” And then I’m off dreaming about not being in the right place, trying to send a text, calling 911, or trying to get the car started and not being able to.

Then I start to feel heavy, like I can’t move but want to, that swimming through thick water towards the surface feeling. I can feel the thick bed under me, my warm pillow on my eyes, the throw blanket over my shoulder. I’m trapped beneath them because they’re so heavy.

Then I start to hear the world moving around me, I lighten up and can feel my fingers move, the cat at my feet, hear the dog snoring beside me. Where am I? What time is it? What DAY is it?

And then I’m awake. I’m me again. I sit up, stretch, throw my feet over the side of the bed and sit up. I left this world for an hour and now I’m back. And it’s so bright and warm. Life feels good.

What if I woke up and the whole world was different to me, but to my family it wasn’t? What if they called me by a different name? What if I didn’t recognize them? What if they thought I’d gone insane and had me locked up?

Sleeping is so strange.

If you’d like to go back and start from the beginning, click back to my first post, “When the Sleeper Wakes: New Read.”

Not Blind Faith and Obedience: Nietzsche

From the front cover flap of my Barnes & Noble edition, “…Nietzsche, a despiser of mass movements both political and religious, did not ask his readers for blind faith and obedience, but rather for critical reflection, courage, and independence.”

Apparently, Nietzsche and I have more in common than I thought.

blind faith and obedience

I only was able to spend thirty minutes in this book so far and, like my son, decided to read the introduction pages to get a feel for the significance of it. I’m about half-way through and the margins are filled with “yes” and “shit” and “well, crap” already.

Why? Because the book was published in 1883 and much of what he’s saying about the evolution of mankind…well, it just hits a little close to home. It probably always has and always will.

 “…life is assumed to be valuable just as it is.”

Tragic or comic, suffering or happiness, this is all of life and is not only to be endured but lived to fullest extent. We aren’t here waiting at this moment for the next to be better. We aren’t suffering through one period of life to enjoy happiness in the next. We are, simply, here, right now, living.

Years ago, I read that Nietzsche’s statement that “God is dead,” wasn’t a metaphysical thing. It’s not that the actual God died or that we killed him somehow. He was “referring instead to people’s belief in the Judeo-Christian God. His claim is that many people who think they believe in God really do not believe. That is, their “belief” makes no difference in their lives, a fact they betray through their actions and feelings.”

This struck right to the middle of my heart because it’s something I’ve brought up so many times over the years. I started watching “Messiah” on Netflix this past week. I’m not done yet, so no spoilers, please! While watching, I’ve paused so many times to rail about their reaction to this man. It’s exactly my problem with religious people. You say one thing and then behave another. You say, “God’s will be done.” And then act to change it. You say, “Turn the other cheek.” And then fight. You say, “Thou shalt not kill.” And then contract to murder. And it’s not just Christians.

Those who have turned our government into a religion are doing the same. We say, “For the greater good.” And then get angry when we’re in the minority. We say, “The authority knows best.” And get angry when it’s used against us. We say, “This is what the voters want. Democracy decides best.” And then avoid following the laws the majority voted for.

I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with it. It’s the natural outcome of denying reality because it’s easier. I believe we should acknowledge that our society has changed. We don’t need “blind faith and obedience.” We need “critical reflection, courage, and independence.” But that involves personal responsibility, and most of us aren’t willing to take that on. It’s far easier to be told what we are supposed to do, make others do it, and blame others when things go badly. It’s easier to take the welfare or the tax break, send our kids to public schools, vote for someone else, or force the medical care, than to provide for ourselves and live with the consequences.

Any time I’ve heard Nietzsche discussed, it’s usually negative. I’ve heard him equated with Nazi’s, which now I’m reading was a misunderstanding based on his sisters editing after his death. I’ve heard that his philosophy leads to nihilism and that was his goal. Nihilism isn’t a goal, it’s a crisis, a turning point. At first, we think, “What’s the damn point if we have nothing to work towards, no afterlife or reward at the end?” We struggle through the change, cocoon ourselves and consider the options. Once we begin to think critically, we take courage and emerge independent. We accept this world right here as it is, the people around us as they are, and we live our lives to the fullest, suffering and peace in same space. Reality is far more exciting.

My thinking is that, just as we protect our children with myths about the wider world as they grow, just as we train our children how to take care of themselves in the comparative safety of our homes, only to allow them to grow up, move out into the world, and take on responsibility for their own lives, so humanity does the same. Humanity will move through this crisis, it will struggle and fight its way out of the protective cocoon of myth and belief, to finally emerge in a new and beautiful form. This is what is meant as “God’s Will.” We aren’t meant for blind faith and obedience forever. If it doesn’t, then so be it. Evolution is a relentless bitch.

Now I know what my son was so excited about. I can’t wait to read more, but I don’t want to rush through just so that I can add it to my “Autobibliography.” I need to slow down, read, write, and reflect more. This may take a while, but I think it will be worth it.

Want to start at the beginning? Pop back to my initial post “Thus Spoke Zarathustra: New Read”

Chaos & Peace: The Roving Mind #1

The first of a few posts on The Roving Mind. There’s a lot in this book. Its essays go just about everywhere and I’m enjoying every page. Well, maybe not EVERY page. There are some moments that I think, “You know, Asimov, for a smart guy but you’re kinda being an ass.” Everyone can get that way about things they believe they know a lot about, things they have been well trained in, etc. We think, “Dammit, I’ve spent a lot of time in this subject. I know things. People should listen to me!” I get that way myself. Often. But then I remember chaos.

You remember chaos theory? “Life, uh, finds a way.” You know, Jurassic Park?

chaos

I know what I’m thinking isn’t exactly chaos theory, but it gets me in the direction I want to go.

Even though we think we know what’s best, we can’t know what’s best for every individual. Even if we did know what was best for someone else, we have their best interests at heart and we have a outside vantage point that they would benefit from seeing, we can’t force people to adopt our way of thinking. We’d be violating their very essence. Everyone is entitled to live their lives however they see fit, even if we can see their choices are doing them a disservice. It’s their life.

When Asimov gets all snarky about people who choose to believe in creationism or a flat earth, I wonder. What does it really matter? Why not simply leave people to their beliefs?

I didn’t realize it, but the title is so appropriate for this blog and my style of learning. “The Roving Mind” sums up my whole lifestyle really. You can’t tell me that a lack of focus is a disability! It’s been serving me well for 48 years and I’ll happily (hopefully) be humming along for at least another 40 at this rate.

In his introduction, right there on page one, I read, “…there is that phrase about doing ‘whatever it is I would do if I weren’t being prodded.’ Actually, I haven’t figured out what that might be. … The only thing I really want to do is to sit at a typewriter (or word-processor) and unreel my thoughts.”

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Asimov.

I’m recently retired. Yes, retired. Even though I have not had a job outside my home for the last 18 years, I have indeed been working. I have had responsibilities that prod me daily into doing things I would not be doing if I were alone with a situation that kept me fed and housed without effort. I’ve been a housewife and a homeschool (rather unschool) mom.

That last sentence proves I’ve been reading and watching too much “British” lately.

Now that I’m not hourly prodded by one child or another, no housework NEEDS to be done each day, and all my husband needs is something to microwave for lunch, I have found myself with a lot of time on my hands. “Get a job!” is the suggestion I hear from friends most. There are other things I could do: sew, knit, gardening, visit friends, volunteer. The list goes on and on. But what I really want to do is read and write.

And that is what I’ve been doing. There are times when I begin to get antsy and look for things to fill more of my time, but then I sit back and think. I have an amazing opportunity here. I can spend my days completely as I see fit. It’s like Star Trek. With an infinite source of energy, the whole community can spend it’s days pursuing whatever they like. I choose to spend mine using my own Roving Mind.

Maybe things will change. Chaos does assert itself. I’m sure some responsibilities will present themselves in the future, but for now I’ll be enjoying the peace, reading, meditating, practicing yoga, making my favorite things to eat from scratch, hiking, watching the birds, and then writing about it. Who knows where I’ll end up.

I laughed outloud when I read that last bit back to myself. I know a lot of people that would go completely crazy with the amount of quiet reflection that goes on around here lately. And here I am sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee, watching a bird pick through my plants, for over thirty minutes and calling it “adventure.” In the past I would not been able to enjoy that moment. I’d have felt like I was wasting precious time. Only lately have I changed my thinking. Time is only wasted when you let is rush by unnoticed.

What would you do with your time if you could spend it however you like? Do you think it would evolve over time if you gave yourself permission to pursue your own roving mind?

It turns out that I’ve written about chaos a few times before! See? Things come back around. Check out Violence and Chaos of the Natural World is What Grendel Represents and Social Anxiety and Chaos Theory.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: New Read

Inspired by my son’s latest attempt at broadening his philosophical horizons, I’m picking up Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” I’ll admit, I have tried to read him before but failed. My last foray was “Beyond Good and Evil” back in September of 2019, which I gave up on only a few pages in. I’m not sure if it was the book or my mood, but I was struggling to understand every paragraph and got frustrated.

thus spoke zarathustra

Earlier this week, my youngest son began “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and was explaining some of the first pages while we drove to Costco and reading paragraphs to me while I sorted books on my new shelves. His excitement made me want to try again. I put my own bookmark in it today and I’ll start reading it in the morning.

Yes, I know I haven’t finished the last two books I’ve posted about, so now I’ll have three books open at the same time, but it will work out. Asimov’s book, “A Roving Mind,” is a collection of essays and reading them one after another for an hour isn’t working. I’m losing track of what I’m reading because I’m not pausing and thinking between essays. “When the Sleeper Wakes” is not an easy read because it’s older, but it is a novel and I can read that for an hour straight without a problem, a couple hours would be fine too.

My son told me that “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is a collection of speeches, and they are a bit rough to read for him, so he’s reading one a day, writing down his favorite quotes and then writing a short summary of what he thinks it says. Then he’s reading something else. I’m sure he told me that because he thinks if I’m reading it, I’ll zoom thru and get ahead of him. I told him I’ll do the same and we can compare notes.

Taking a moment to wallow around in the glory of a grown child wanting to read and talk about books.

…sigh…

Wish me luck. Nietzsche is not easy but I have enjoyed explanations of his philosophy and do want to read his words for myself. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it. If you haven’t, run over to Thriftbooks and read along with us!

Want to follow me through this book? Read my next posts.
Not Blind Faith and Obedience: Nietzsche

Breathe and Project Kindness: Podcast Roundup #5

How does one remember to breathe and project kindness during a long drive? How does one keep their calm and remember that we are all on the same spinning rock in space together? How does one let go of being cut off and potentially smashed against the center divider by a semi-truck making a break for it in bumper-to-bumper traffic?

breathe and project kindness

When I get in the car, I unwrap my Mala Beads from my wrist while speaking the mantra, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be at peace.” And then place them on my dashboard. When I leave the car, I pick them up and put them back on the same way. It seems to be working.


Every time I go to write and save a “podcast roundup” post, I start hearing this in my head…

Consider it the theme song!

And…now I’m missing Disneyland again. …sigh…

Moving on! It’s time for the (not so much weekly these days) Podcast Roundup!

Episode #5

This week’s drive into the city was exciting in the usual California way (read: TRAFFIC), mostly due to construction and an accident. But it was still productive. Not only did I get to visit a friend, enjoy a great lunch out (once we found a restaurant that was not closed due to staffing problems), and a chance to exercise purchasing restraint at Target, but I also got to listen to some great podcasts and (practicing patience and letting go) spent some time on the phone with friends and family as well. It doesn’t get better than that.

I’ll do my usual short takeaway from each podcast, but there was so much more. I’ll also mention any books I’ve added to my TBR list that were influenced by the episode.

Secular Buddhism – #154 Taking the Long View

WAR = We Are Right

CATO Daily – Harm Reduction amid COVID-19

Lack of context in news coverage (statistics are purposefully misleading if you don’t add the denominator) is causing suspicion.

BBC Bookclub – Tayari Jones – An American Marriage

I found this podcast last week and I’m not sure it’s a good idea to keep listening. It’s adding way too many books to my TBR list! It is a great way to find new novels to read though! I don’t think I would have picked this one up, if I hadn’t heard the author talking about with other readers.

Book Added to TBR List: “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones

CATO Daily – The Rocky, Necessary, ‘Trump-Biden’ Afghanistan Withdrawal

Some more neutral insight into the Afghanistan mess.

The Minimalists – #302 The Advice Epidemic

It’s not love, it’s ego.

Quote: “Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest.” – Thomas Sowell

This guy keeps coming up lately. Yes, his book is on my list, along with a biography.

BBC Thinking Allowed – Coal Mining – Luddism

I listened to this one for about twenty minutes, had no idea what they were talking about and then skipped it.

BBC In Our Time – Culture – Shakespeare’s Sonnets

I love watching Shakespeare’s plays but never got into the sonnets. They’re poetry and I’m not a poetry fan, too abstract for my little brain, I guess. But an interesting point came up. The sonnets were published in 1609, after being written throughout several plague closures in London.

Philosophy Bites – Arash Abizadeh on Thomas Hobbes’ Ethics

My thoughts: Hobbes was a nut. Life is not “nasty, brutish, and short” without a controlling state. Humans are social animals. We will censor and maintain ourselves to stay within the good graces of a social group. We do not need to be controlled. Who hurt you, Thomas Hobbes?!

BBC Bookclub – Tahmima Anam – A Golden Age

The life of a mother during a revolution? Sign me up.

              Book Added to TBR List: “A Golden Age” by Tahmima Anam

And there you go, another great round-up! I love podcasts. They add so much to by drive, input I crave during a time that I can’t read. Technology win!

Click back to my previous post, Buddhism, Economics, Racism and More: Podcast Roundup #4, for more.

Using Buddhism as a Practice

“No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners” is definitely a beginner’s book. Short and sweet, right to the point, and I loved it. It’s a wonderful start at using Buddhism as a practice. In the hopes of remembering more of it…insert eye-roll because I can’t believe I have such a hard time with this…I’m putting it on top of my current book from awhile and reading one page of it first thing and then moving on to the rest of my day.

using buddhism

That’s what’s awesome about this book. Each question or concept is covered in one or two pages, making it easy to take in, one step at a time. No, you’re not going to get the in-depth and detailed nuances and rich history of Buddhism, but you will get the big picture and be able to start using the ideas immediately. It’s the edge pieces of the puzzle I was talking about looking for in my last post on The Protestant Ethic.

I’ve read a few books on Buddhism; Returning to Silence, The Art of Happiness, and The Story of Buddhism. All of them were wonderful, but this one has been the most useful. It’s more practical, less spiritual, of course, since Noah Rasheta does an amazing podcast called Secular Buddhism, where I found the book.

There is so much in this book to act on, that I can’t simply pull out a couple quotes to sum it up. That’s why I’m going to re-read it, much as I used to re-read and study my bible, one page at time, in the hopes of soaking up the information, digesting it and turn it into actions that make my life (and the lives of the people around me) just that much more peaceful.

There is one quote that I felt I needed to put down here:

“Buddhism can be practiced somewhat like yoga: as something you do, not something you are.”

This really got me. Years ago, I finally succumbed to pressure and started a meditation practice. At the beginning, I would go out to put the laundry in the washer and then sit beside it and practice for five minutes. That five minutes changed my life. Sounds crazy, but it is true. Nothing about my life changed though, it was only my awareness of my surroundings that changed, and my awareness that I could take a breath, pause, and then act. Something that had never occurred to me before.

That same year, I added yoga to my morning routine as an active meditation. And, wow, things really started to move around in my head. The process of learning to move and stretch my body as I breathe, putting all else aside for thirty minutes brought me peace that I took into the rest of my day.

Slowly but surely, I’m still learning more and more every day. I wish the process would speed up, or that I could go back in time and start earlier. Maybe I’d have made some better decisions in my life, or at least drove fewer people crazy with my reactionary habits. But that’s life. We live and learn. And because I started to learn these teachings as my sons entered their teens, I’ve been able to pass the ideas on to them early and it does look like they are using them. Another example of how we become immortal, passing a bit of ourselves into the future.

My practice today isn’t long and involved, but it is more consistent, and that means progress. A practice is something you do every day in the hopes of getting better and better. You never finish. You never arrive. You only practice until you die. Life is crazy like that.

So, yes, I enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it if you’re curious about the basics of Buddhism. Every page is useful. Every chapter is helpful.

Lack of Interest and Another DNF

Due to a lack of interest in the subject matter, I’m proud to say that I’m adding another DNF to my reading list. Let me explain why because it’s just as important as finishing a book that I’m thrilled with.

I started reading “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” on August 11 and gave up six days later. I’m only just now getting back to telling you about it. I’m falling behind on my schedule, folks!

lack of interest

I think I gave this book a respectable chance, especially given how hard it was to read. One-hundred and eight pages in and I gave up, not because it was a bad book, but because I just wasn’t getting anything useful out of it. I was only a third of the way through (already over five hours) and that 5000-piece puzzle I was sorting through wasn’t giving up any edge pieces for me to start to see the picture. Maybe I need something easier to start the subject with?

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of fascinating information, little tidbits that never occurred to me about the differing sects of Christianity and how they grew up and evolved in different cultures. It was just that I couldn’t put any of the information into any context that would help me today. I felt lost the whole time I was reading it.

I believe I got more out of the introduction to the text than the text itself, and that’s ok. I know of the book and some of what the author was trying to do. I know a little of the history of it and why it was important. The details must not be something I need at the moment.

In the future, maybe I’ll look up some articles or videos that explain it more in, but for now, I don’t see a reason to spend ten more hours of my precious reading time here.

A lack of interest is a legitimate reason not to finish a book and a DNF does not mean a failure to complete. I cannot read every book ever written, even if I limited it to books that I know are amazing classics. There just isn’t the time available in one life! Like most things in life, I must be consciously selective. This book isn’t serving me, so I’m setting it aside.

What’s next? (Shuffles through the ever-expanding shelves of her TBR pile) Ahh… “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I love that guy!

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