A Virtual Book Club - What are YOU reading?!

Tag: relationships

For the Love of Books

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There are few books that are so good, so touching, so relevant, that I have to close them and get a grip on myself while I read. I couldn’t keep reading this book until I didn’t have any more time, I had to only read until my heart couldn’t take anymore and needed some time to recover!

How did I accidentally come across such a wonderful book? Did someone recommend it to me? Was it on a list of “must reads” that I found somewhere? Not at all. Once again, a book I sorely needed fell into my path and I picked it up. And I will never regret it.
A few weeks ago, you may remember, I had an urge to visit the closest physical new book store over 60 miles away. It was an adventure for sure. That’s where I found this book. I posted about it HERE.
I had started to read it in line at the bookstore and continued in the car while I ate lunch that day. I instantly fell in love…ok maybe I just lusted after a new book, I don’t know. The cover was so romantic and the back beckoned me to open it and dive in. Unfortunately, after that little taste of love, I had to go home and finish the book I was already reading, but that wasn’t too much trouble. I was loving The Brothers Karamazov anyway and had to find out what was going to happen to Ivan before I found out why Perdue was so lovesick!
Once I got started, I swam through it in under 9 hours. I devoured it with my eyes. It broke my heart and then healed it. So much beauty! To me, the best part was that these characters were older, like me, not young twenty-somethings. They had lived, lost, re-lived, and just started living. It praised patience, kindness, and various kinds of love under different circumstances. It showed me people who ran out and got what they needed when they needed it, even in their 50’s and 60’s. I loved every page of it and closed it in tears of joy.
“With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chere Madame.”
True? I think so! What you read teaches you how to live with others, how to get along with anyone.
It’s going to be hard to limit my quotes from this book. I underlined a spectacular line on just about every page! Here’s another one:
“Books aren’t eggs, you know. Simply because a book has aged a bit doesn’t mean it’s gone bad.” “What is wrong with old? Age isn’t a disease. We all grow old, even books. But are you, is anyone, worth less, or less important, because they’ve been around for longer?”
How many times have I heard THAT argument? “This book isn’t relevant to our age!” While that may be true for instruction manuals, it is rarely true about anything else. To relate to each other today, we have to understand our past. You can’t set aside a book, or a person, because of their age.
One of the sweetest ideas in this book is his idea of a “Literary Apothecary.” He wanted to create an encyclopedia of little emotions. He prescribes books to heal ailments. Can you just imagine it? How about this one…
“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some…well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair.”
Human emotion, human relationships, are just so amazingly varied and delicate. I want that encyclopedia! I want that apothecary to prescribe just what I need and it seems he did through this book. It broke my heart into little pieces and I loved every second of it!
I’ll be here all day if I keep thumbing through and commenting on every line of this book. Go get it! You won’t regret it.

Connected by Souls

We’ve all heard it before.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne

Earlier this week I listened to Aubrey Marcus’ interview with Humble as I drove to meet a friend for hiking.

The part I’m talking about starts at 8:40 but at 10:00 he says it most clearly. I’ll paraphrase. “We’re a drop in the ocean. If we separate ourselves completely, we’ll dry up.”

We all feel the longing to connect with other human beings at some level.

Christians say that God is in us, that we are created in His image, that we have a soul. What if that soul is actually a part of God and therefore, we are all connected in that way?

Remember the Borg from Star Trek Next Generation? All of the Borg are connected by a hive mind. When one is separated, it continues to communicate with the hive and becomes anxious, longing to return to the hive. If there is a small group of them, they operate as a smaller hive and aren’t as lost, but they still work toward reuniting with their source. What if we are like that with God?

What if that feeling of being disconnected and lost is because we have been separated from the source and now it’s getting worse because we’ve become separate from each other? On this physical plane, we can’t completely return to God, but we connect in small groups to ease our separation anxiety until we can. Or at least we used to.

When asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

To love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, and mind, is to honor the creator. To love my neighbor as I would myself, is to honor the creator in them. We love them on earth until we can all return as one to God.

Why All the Fear?

“No fear have ye of evil curses, says you. Properly warned ye be, says I.”

What stops us from loving, from reaching out to people, from jumping in with both feet?

I believe it’s fear, but not exactly the fear of a broken heart. It’s the immature fear of not being able to possess something entirely.

And why should we fear that?

Do we go to a movie and hope it’s not very good?
We’d miss the entertainment of the hours we were there and the waste the money we spent!

Do we not buy a book because we can see it has a finite number of pages?
We’d never gain the experience the story!

Do we cry and shake an angry fist at an amusement park because it is closing and the day has come to an end?
We would ruin the day of excitement for ourselves and those around us.

Only a child would act this way because he hasn’t learned that all things come to an end, that to love is to lose, that we have the experiences not to keep them but to remember them.

Then why do we behave this way in our relationships with other people?

Why do we go out to meet people and not embrace who they are, get to know them and see if they are good friend material?

Why do we not jump into a new relationship with both feet and enjoy the moment?

And why do we throw a fit when a relationship finally ends, whether it was a long-term friendship or short term lover?

What if we didn’t?

What if we looked at the people around us as free and independent people that we might get the chance to spend time with, be that positive or negative, instead of objects to be possessed and kept like fine art collection?

What if we went into every relationship with every other human being knowing that our time together is finite, like a wonderful book, and that the point of reading it is to experience it and remember it forever?

Note to my 24-year-old Self

This is another post from my old blog that I’m bringing over here. I wrote it a little over a year ago. It’s amazing how things are constantly changing.

“What would I tell my 24-year-old self?” That is the question I found close to the end of my “Entrusted” online bible study with Beth Moore. She said she’d tell herself nothing, not because she wouldn’t listen anyway (which was my thought) but because the journey was worth not knowing. Does the journey make the destination that much sweeter?

Would I be the 44-year-old person I am today if I had not lived and learned through the 24-year-old self I was? I don’t think so. I think if I hadn’t lived the way I did, learned from it, changed through it, and moved on, I would be an entirely different person now. I like who I am now. The only thing I would wish for myself is that it hadn’t taken so long, that I hadn’t hurt so many people through the process.

My journals stopped in late 1992, the year I turned 20. I have pictures from that time but they start to be less and less frequent until 1998. Six years. From the year my Mom moved to another state and I was left here, living with a boyfriend until the year I met my husband, and my friends helped me move to my own place. Wow. Such a dark time. I vaguely remembered it until I paged through some pictures and wrote down the events on a time line.

I had met someone, whose name will not be mentioned. He is the only person I actually got rid of any pictures of. I have had loads of boyfriends and they are still friends. I have pictures of them in my albums. I still talk to most of them on Facebook. There is one (maybe two) that I really hurt back then and they have disappeared, but this one had such an ugly effect on my life during those years that I still don’t want to be reminded of it. He took up four years of my life. For four years I must have been one of the most miserable people on earth. I sometimes wonder if anyone around me really knew what was happening. I know a couple did and tried to help, but we were all so young and wrapped up in our own dramas, there was little anyone could do if I wasn’t willing to help myself. I can’t relive those times and write about it, even now, but I wanted to give you the feeling of it in the context of those times as I think of what I would tell my 24-year-old self.

“You are worth so much more than this. Here’s a book about Jesus, a journal, $200 to get started on a journey, and my phone number if you want to talk. You are not trapped or held by anything but your own mind.”

Two things changed my life in 1998. The first was getting the job I had dreamed of for six years. I had a decent income and new friends. The second was that I saw my future husband from the back of a pickup truck at that job. He was standing outside the lunch room, we locked eyes when we saw each other again, just like in the movies. It had been six years since we had seen each other and I had disappeared without a trace. Something began to happen at that moment. That’s when I began to have confidence in myself as a human being.

It didn’t happen all at once. It took years to recover. Only now do I see how far I’ve come. And then that question, “What would you tell your 24-year-old self?” I think I agree with Beth Moore. I wouldn’t tell her a thing. I’d just love her right where she was, knowing she would survive and what she’d become.

A Piece of the Puzzle

Something I’ve learned recently is that we can’t and should not try to change people. We should accept them exactly as they are.

“Don’t be so negative/positive.”

“Smile more!”

“Don’t eat that!”

“You should spend more time meditating, exercising, getting into nature.”

“Socialize! It’s good for you.”

Accept that person as they are if you want to be around them. If you can’t, or just don’t want to, that’s fine too. Find someone else to hang out with.

Other side? If someone doesn’t want to be around you, accept it and move on. They aren’t bad people, you just don’t fit together. They are another piece of the puzzle that fit somewhere else in the same picture. We are all connected somehow and equally important just the way we are.

The “Evil” of Smart Phones

Ahh, the perennial post about the evils of smartphones. Apparently, they are ruining our relationships and destroying our children’s minds because they don’t have the skills to cope with their use. Really? I find that line of thinking so strange. I quickly started to comment out of rage against such thinking and then stopped before I hit send. I copied it to a memo on my phone, added more in a couple of minutes, and then put it away to finish eating my breakfast and make something for my son before he left for work. I talked to them about what I heard and my reaction. They could see I had passionate feelings about it and told me they thought I might be overreacting. There are always going to be people like that, people that are afraid of new things, people that have a harder time seeing the future or coping with changes. “Let it go,” my young adult son tells me, “Focus on the positive.”

But here I am, an hour later, still upset. I decided to journal about it. Maybe it’ll be a blog post. Oh, who am I trying to kid! Of course, it will be a blog post!

I copied the initial response and shared it to myself from my phone so that I could have it on my computer. I can type better and edit easier with all my fingers. And here I am, thinking about it and wondering how to put my thoughts into positive words.

First of all, about 90% of my current friends I met online through Yahoo groups on the computer in the early 2000’s and on Facebook on my phone in the second decade. If it weren’t for those groups, I’d be a lonely mess. I’d have met far fewer people that share my interests and I’d never would have gotten the help I needed for my anxiety. Our whole lifestyle changed for the better because I was able to search for answers on the internet.

Second, smartphones made our education style way more exciting. While out in the world, we can search for answers on the spot. We can find friends to meet, places to go, food to eat, directions, and more information about the thing we are looking at and curious about at that moment. It has enhanced our lives in a million ways! And I can stay connected to my friends and family at the same time. My Mother-in-law can call me for help wherever I am. My husband can know when we’ll be home. My brother can share his life with us from the other side of the country. And my Dad can meet us for pizza any day. Smartphones connect us to people. That’s who’s on the other end of the phone. Real people.

And another thing…I think I’ll file this under “rants”…humans crave attention, connection to other people. Smartphones can give that to them. Children can and will learn to navigate the world with the phones by using them. They will do so much better than us because they grew up with them, just like we are better at computers than our parents because we grew up using them. Instead of their own family and the neighbors to associate with, they have the whole world at their fingertips. If your children are more interested in their phones than their family, then make your family more inviting maybe? Maybe connect with them via the phone and more. I text my sons from across the room. I text my husband when he’s out in the garage. I share funny things I find online. And when we eat dinner, sometimes one of them answers a message because there is a person they care about on the other end. Sometimes the phone will ring and I’ll look at it and decide whether it’s urgent or not. I don’t discourage that. Why would I? What if my son’s girlfriend’s car broke down or my Mom was headed to the hospital? Should I ignore the call for help because I’m having dinner with my husband?

Yes, we are still adjusting to the new media. We’re inventing new social standards. And there are crappy people on the internet too. But, overall, the world is better for smart phones. We are better people because we have them.

Smartphones are not ruining your relationships. YOU are ruining your relationships with your phone, just like you could with anything else. The objects aren’t doing it. You are. And we all were ruining our relationships before phones with sports, alcohol, hobbies, cars, books, tv, etc. Everyone has an escape mechanism. Don’t blame the object. Change your behavior.

What if?

What if I’m not the person you think I am?

What if I’m not the person I want to be?

What if I can’t be?

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