Thursday, January 17, 2008

49 To Go!

Okay, my first book of 2008's Fifty Books By 2009 effort is done. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I've always heard of it but managed to never read it. I liked it, although I do have to tell you that nothing really happens in it. It's the story of Francie Nolan of Brooklyn at the turn of the century; her family, her childhood, growing up, moving on, coming home. It is beautifully written in a quiet way, where you feel like you are simply following Francie through her life as a poor kid in Brooklyn. It reminded me of a less sad, less heartachy Angela's Ashes.

One of my favorite lines in the book is this: "What had Granma Mary Rommely said? 'To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.'"

I've been trying to find a way to incorporate my resolution to Be Less Judgmental into my life in an honest way. When I read Granma Rommely's words in the book, it hit me like the KSW hit Tom Cruise {insert oral sound effect here to imply L. Ron Hubbard-like revelation). If you resolve to look at everyone and everything as though you were seeing them for either the first or last time, you can so easily put anything in perspective. It reminds us to treat people properly. So many of us in relationships say or do things to one another that we'd never have done in the first few months of the relationship. Why? Because we stopped seeing our partner as we saw them the first time--when we weren't looking for faults and when we were trying to fix our own. My Dad used to joke with me when I'd get irritated at his propensity for taking over my house when he visited, "The day will come, hen, when you will sit around and wish you had me here to mess up your kitchen and tell dirty jokes to your friends." Guess what? He was right. If I'd looked at his antics and said, "How would I react if this were the last time he'd be here to do this?" I'd have blown it off and said, "That's JP being JP" and chilled out already.

I've also been reading about Buddhism in an effort to better understand and be able to communicate it to Bambina. One of the key elements that hit me (cue the L. Ron Hubbard revelatory sound again) was the notion of choice. That I have the choice to feel angry, offended, irritated. At first glance you think that statement to be complete nonsense, after all how can I help what I feel? But when you really think about it, you realize that everything in life is choice. Including being offended or angry or hurt. Not in a fake way where you pretend something didn't hurt you, but in the way where you acknowledge it, let it be with you, and then let it go. This also struck me as a way to be less judgmental of others. After all, if I work to remove "irritated" or "offended" from my collection of available emotions, after a while it won't be the first thing I feel when someone does something offensive. And where there is no offense taken, there is no needless judging of others.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that my resolution to read 50 books is already helping me to keep my other resolutions. I judge that to be a good thing.


nm in mn said...

Well, thanks to your advice, I got my butt kicked today. "Look at something like you are seeing it for the first time." Great. The problem is that the black man at the convenience store did not take my starring at him in awe too well. Probably did not help when I refused to answer his "what the hell are you looking at?" inquiry.
Turns out I do indeed bruise like a peach. And it is freakin' cold out here.

nm in mn said...

ps. congrats on your first book of 2008. Are you going to start a E's book of the week to recommend to your loyal following?

Vigilante said...
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