Indispensable Writers for Today (July 16/09)

<July 16/09>

Now, I’m an obsessive reader, so I’m almost certain to miss someone who’s utterly indispensable. I have TONS of favourite writers (after all, I’ve been an obsessive reader for lo, these 50 years, i.e., ever since I was taught to read. Whatever I may think about the broken educational system, & it is broken, & it has been for a very long time now, I am very, very grateful to it for having taught me to read).

My spirits are a tad low-ish lately, so writers who are funny – who make me laugh – are going to rise like cream to the top of this list.

And today, at least, my environmental activist side is utterly dormant, so although there are tons of writers I can recommend if you want to better understand the environmental crisis, they are probably not going to make the cut today.

(Hmm. This makes me feel a little bit guilty; maybe I’ll add some of them in as a P.S. at the end. We’ll see…)

  1. Cake or Death – The Excruciating Choices of Everyday Life, by Heather Mallick, is full of laugh-out-loud moments. She is terribly witty & understands the world very well indeed, & she claims to be a person who is often depressed – & reading her can be quite disturbing; she sure doesn’t candy-coat the nature of the world – but she is also very, very FUNNY! Sooooo glad old friend Barb sent this book my way.
  2. Anything by Anne Lamott – particularly her non-fiction books – is wonderful. Lamott is wise, funny, compassionate, self-deprecating – &  invariably makes me feel as though I am not the only humanoid on the planet who gets lonely, feels like an alien, had a really WEIRD childhood, wishes I could be more perfect than I seem to be (at least in this incarnation) both as a human being & as a parent. I swear by Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B – Further Thoughts on Faith, Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith, & am also crazy about Bird by BirdSome Instructions on Writing and Life. (I did a blog post called ‘Do Yourself a Favour,’ about her novel Joe Jones. The book is a great read!)
  3. I’ve said so much lately about Elizabeth Lesser that I’m probably in danger of becoming a bore, but her book Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow is a masterpiece – a workshop-between-covers in honesty, understanding (& having compassion for) human foibles (especially our own), living an authentic life, how we all beat up on ourselves & why (& how) we might want to consider just admitting to our paid-in-full membership in this very troublesome club called the human race, with its foibles & faults & problems & neuroses – along with some pretty darn useful tips on healing.
  4. Pema Chödrön – Buddhist nun & brilliant writer who is brutally honest about her own shortcomings (shared by all of us, btw) & challenging moments, & the enormously useful & wise & compassionate teachings of Buddhist thought. I’ve only read The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving KindnessWhen Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times – both are absolute treasures & I feel quite certain it is time to re-read both…I also feel certain I could sit down & have a forthright chat with Ms. Chödrön about my own all-too-numerous faults & failings & my current forms of ridiculousness & seemingly impossible behaviour, & come away feeling blessed – & affirmed – & embraced with compassion & understanding (of course too, she doesn’t have to live with me. Tee hee. That’s another ballgame entirely, hmm??)
  5. Yikes! All women so far; isn’t that fun?? Leading inexorably to that utter master of the moment, Eckhart Tolle – of whom I have also spoken muchly & often – & whose staggering wisdom & utter timeliness are blow-you-out-of-the-water brilliant. I am a person terribly reluctant to embrace “guru-ness,” but ET is an indispensable “guru,” surely, for all human beings at this…words are failing me…unprecedented time in human/planetary history – as we poise ourselves precariously on the cusp of our very own destruction as a species. How anyone could read The Power of Now & most especially A New Earth & NOT be … (words are failing me again) shaken to the core by his wisdom – & insights – & compassion – well, words fail me yet again. Best & most important book I’ve read in a very, very, very long time…  I’d advise anyone to read A New Earth (& also listen to any & all of his audio CD’s you can lay your hands on) & see your philosophies – your worldview – your ideas about yourself & your life…take quite a few steps forward.

Big deep breath….

I believe that’s IT for me just now. Never mind the environmental writers – a task for another day, perhaps. I think it’s time for me to chill…& maybe read some more Heather Mallick.

As a parting note, I will point out that of the 5 writers named herein, 4 are women – & also mothers – & since for me, motherhood has been & will always remain the single most noteworthy, challenging & rewarding experience of my life (by a very long shot), this may be relevant.(1)

Eckart Tolle, of course, is not a mother. Perhaps he is the wise...loving...patient...compassionate...understanding father figure so many of us (all of us??) have always longed for.

Hey! – I dunno, it’s just a thought.

I’m no “spiritual master” myself. I’m just doing my best (a not-so-very excellent best, at present) to put one foot in front of the other, a day at a time, a moment at a time, hopeful that my words may help shine even a teeny-tiny bit of light – & give me a chuckle & some fun (writing saves my ass).

Salut!

Janet

p.s. My early school years were very much enlivened by a small workbook called ‘Words Are Important.’ It seems I took the phrase very much to heart…


(1) Although as Amma Chi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi has said, “The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love – and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, ‘I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.’ Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much a part of their being as breathing.”