Reading Julie Lythcott-Haims memoir, Real American has skillfully prodded me toward important awareness of:
- my inadequacy to see the world from others’ points of view
- how many moments I have wasted in self-absorption instead of seeing others and their obstacles
- how long it takes in a lifetime to really understand that compassion toward others is everything
- the importance and long-term impact of all people (especially people we discount)
- the terrible pain people of color have endured due to the callousness and ignorance of others
I reluctantly read my first Jack Reacher novel. Don’t usually read this genre, but have to admit, I had at least two take-aways:
- Fictional albeit, Reacher’s amazing courage and healthy detachment is a powerful inspiration and reminder that “hero status” is my responsibility and my possibility. (Validating Joseph Campbell’s theory that myth enlarges our world.)
- In the book, Reacher had a rare lapse of foresight and was thrown two-hundred miles off course at the worst imaginable time, without means to communicate to someone waiting in a precarious place for him. Instead of despairing, he stayed calm. As a result, he solved his case because of the detour (following a U-Haul truck, meditating on its mindless ad!)
Fretting never got me anywhere. Loving a detour may.
“You live life forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look in the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.” – Abraham Verghese
This quote craftily describes that sickening, sinking feeling that comes with the awareness (or the memory) of having made the wrong decision.
If I had only…is the plague and the gaping wound of our human condition that will not heal…unless…we grab the tourniquet of today, wrap it tightly around the bleeding past, and step with resolve into tomorrow.
I can only do that when I remember:
It is no crime to be fallible.
Redemption dwells in strange places.
Power belongs to the present, and
If I have been given breath, there is hope for tomorrow
(Initially posted in 2012. If you haven’t read the book, it is quite enlightening.)
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s brilliant research on optimizing personal fulfillment reminds us that “throwing ourselves whole-heartedly” into a task has multiple benefits, including self-expansion.
Bringing it down to earth (because we might not be excited about our work today), this means we can find joy and benefit from any task, job, assignment, or challenge no matter who notices or rewards us, or how mundane it is.
Fulfillment is all up to us! Here are some of the ways to do it:
- make a game of it
- sing and dance while working
- imagine it is your last opportunity you will have to use your mind and body
- work like your life depends on it (it does)
- set a personal goal
No one can be bored during a chase.
Get your adrenaline up. Flow and grow.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath is well worth reading, not just for the inspiring tales of underdog victory, but also for useful insights into history, medicine, industry, education, sociology, and human survival.
Books as Gladwell’s remind me that…
- I know so little about things I assume I know so much
- unlikely heroes are in every walk of life
- my weaknesses can bring me the greatest victories
- every story counts
- courage and audacity change the world
Thank you, Malcolm Gladwell, for reminding me that things aren’t always as they seem.
I love this quote by Harold Kushner (author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People).
When I think of my life this way, I can trace threads of connection with situations or people through a pattern that is no less interesting than an intricate work of art, or the complicated plot of a great book.
The challenge is in the stopping to notice part.
In order to do so, I must adamantly deny fear, anxiety, and frustration access to my story. Since I am actually a co-author of “this book,” I can intentionally choose to write myself as the character that overcomes the most difficult challenges, arriving at a breath-taking climax: a climax that will tie all the intricacies and mysteries together with one great big sigh of relief.