Have you ever had that year where you look back and are shocked at how it started and how it ended? Are you surprised at how many things happened and just how far you have come? Well, that has been the past year for me. Through the thickets of work life and personal life I have travelled - and ended up in sunny California! I never imagined I would live on the west coast, but nonetheless here I am, and I know in my heart of hearts, that this past year could not have turned out better. Funny how things are sometimes, eh?
Well on my journey of sorts I did not let go of my inner journey nor my reading. Too many books have come and gone since the last time I wrote - and mainly I must say, each found its way to me when I needed it the most. Queen of Dreams (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) came when I was searching through my own dreams for what it was I really wanted. The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult) came to me at a time when I needed to understand people and stories, and how life really does go full circle sometimes. And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini) - by far the best novel I read in 2013 - touched me in a way I know I will never forget. The beautiful story, the beautiful characters - the name, Pari - will never leave me. The love - so innocent, so simple, will forever resonate in my heart. And lastly, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) and the Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) came at a time when I most needed to hear about hard work - when I most needed to know not to give up. Looking back I truly feel these books came to life for me, they came to me, not me to them - they found me, one way or another - they helped me and got me through. IF I stop to think about it, how can anyone ever be lonely when the right book is in their life? And on that note, let me tell you a bit about what I just finished reading and what I have been up to this year.
Towards the beginning of this year I read a very poignant little book called "I am Malala" - it is about a little girl who spoke out and was shot by the Taliban. Her story is so ordinary and yet so extraordinary it left me in a bit of awe. This girl is simply put, brave - she is a role model to girls all around the world, and I hope to hear many great things from her. We really do need such strong female leaders in this world - and it's a shame we don't have more of them! I was quite conflicted during this read though - I constantly felt affronted with my religion and race being so different than Malala, and being mentioned as such. But I chose to go to a deeper level - a humanistic level. She was not a Muslim girl, or even a Pakistani girl to me - she was simply a girl - and now that I think of it, simply a human being. It was a human being's story I read - a real one at that, and one that teaches us to speak out, one that teaches us to be brave, one that teaches us that if one so young can be bold, then why not us? Are we less bold as we grow older because we understand consequence? Are we less bold as we grow older because we have more responsibilities? Well - Malala understood these consequences and responsibilities and chose to speak out despite them. And her purpose? Education. I think she hit it on the nose!
I recently finished Ellen DeGeneres's "Seriously.. I'm Kidding". While a hoot and a half, I'm not sure it had much substance to it. A lot of chapters, a lot of paragraphs started out with a theme or a thought that was pretty cool or interesting, but soon went off in a tangent that while funny, caused the original thought to lose its meaning. I find myself wishing Ellen had developed some more of her thoughts in a complete way. Alas, I did finish the book, and I did enjoy it in terms of the jokes and laughter it brought me (probably its' purpose), but I would be hesitant to recommend it because I think there could have been so much more, and yet there was not.
And lastly, I have started the Power of Myth. It is a dialogue between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. I'm only a handful of pages in, but I must say it is beautiful. The topics they discuss move at a rapid pace, but the thoughts they hit upon leave me in awe and my mind whirring with ideas! I will leave you today with a quote of what Campbell says in one paragraph, and come back another day to give you a full post of my musings on this particular read.
"And that's what meditation is for. All of life is a meditation, most of it unintentional. A lot of people spend most of life in meditating on where their money is coming from and where it's going to go. If you have a family to bring up, you're concerned for the family. These are all very important concerns, but they have to do with physical conditions, mostly. But how are you going to communicate spiritual consciousness to the children if you don't have it yourself? How do you get that? What the myths are for is to bring us into a level of consciousness that is spiritual." ~ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth