Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Self-help books & gloomy weather: a perfect combination
I always have such grand plans- for what I'll do today, where I'll be next week, what I'll do in Life- but, I'm ashamed to say, they rarely ever materialize. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. One is that I just can't seem to make decisions- there are so many choices to make, paths to choose, ways to live- if I pick one, then suddenly all the others are closed off, or so it appears. Another reason is that I'm often stuck in the past, analyzing and scrutinizing and criticizing every mistake I've made and letting it impair the choices I have before me in the present. This is very bad. To say the least.
I was at the library today searching for something in particular, which I found- but I also came out with an armload of books, only a few of which I'll have time to read before they're due (I am perpetually in debt to the library). I like non-fiction, memoirs, travel writing, and occasionally, a good novel. But I also sort of secretly really like self-help books. Not the cheesy, gimmicky kind with the fake-looking people on the cover- although I admit it's a fine line sometimes. I'm always drawn to books about struggle, loss, unhappiness, and the stories of people who have overcome difficult times in their lives.
So I'm reading 'The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart,' by Daphne Rose Kingma. My life doesn't seem so bad in comparison: I didn't just lose my home, divorce my husband, watch someone die, or accidentally poison my pet. Although, it's all relative. And there is a chapter in this book that seems to have been written for me. It's called, 'Let Go,' and it begins with a quote by Michael Peake: "Everything I've ever let go of has claw marks on it." I'm a professional clawer myself.
Kingma says that deep down in our spiritual selves, we know when a stage of life or way of being is no longer serving its purpose for us, but it's hard to let it go all the same. "It's what you let go of, not what you hang onto, that will bring you to grace and tranquility in the end." This is scary news: I may never achieve a graceful state of being. It's so difficult to leave the past alone- if I had just done this, if I had only tried harder, made better decisions, if only...
But Kingma says that holding onto things is being afraid; letting go of them is a sign of hope, of knowing there's a potentially bright future ahead. "New lands await, freedom abounds. Opportunities hide like rain in the clouds waiting for the moment to reveal themselves." I like this idea that opportunity is always there, if only we just open ourselves to embrace it. I think it's true, and it seems very simple. However, in reality, I'm still having trouble extracting my claws from the past.
I'm not religious, but I am spiritual. I love this: "In letting go, we surrender the weight of our burdens and find the lightness of being with which to begin once again. We open a door for the intervention of the divine."