Monday, October 25, 2010

books can illuminate your life

i put it that way, rather than change your life because to do that you must do something differently, or as ramana maharshi sad, 'put one thing in practice.' to merely understand is not enough.

one book did change the way i behaved, or so i thought:

when helping you is hurting me: escaping the messiah trap by carmen renee berry

ever since i can remember i've been sensitive to the emotional disturbances of young women. it's no secret why: my mother ill much of the time when i was young, or as a therapist told me, 'your mother and sister trained you well to take care of women.'

ach, a sword in my side. i tried so many times! and ultimately experienced enormous frustration. berry's book showed me how that probably happened, my mother used me as a confidant from a young age. this overwhelms the child with the desire to resolve a situation in which he/she powerless.

great, i stopped, or so i thought, until eva caught me offguard by the psychic upheavals caused by her mother's death. (thank heavens, she's dived into therapy with professionals and taken the burden off me.) yet, i am not incapable of helping when i can do so practically. my youngest sister called last week with her woes, mostly physical, the arthritis in her thumbs so bad everything she does painful. not only that, a cop set her up with a false dui and losing her license, she hasn't been able to make a living.

well, brother messiah kicked in. she said she couldn't do all the things she likes to do: write, cook, play the guitar, or sew. hmm, i thought, a bit of money will solve that. i've sent her a bunch of new stuff: a laptop and accessories, a dulcimer with music and a book how to play it (look, ma, no thumbs), a pair of electric scissors and an electric knife. i also did research on thumb-splints and found dozens made for her situation.

yes, i did do some legal research. unfortunately, legal aid can't deal with the department of motor vehicles, an empire onto itself. disability turned her down the first time, but the doctor adamant about her need and going after it again. she's behind in rent. i'm hoping assembling all her friends (she has hundreds) on facebook and writing blogs on the dmv will get her help.

am i a sucker or not? i don't think so. trying to motivate a person to take care of herself is one thing, giving tools to a motivated person another. my sister ultimately very feisty. i'm sure she'll succeed. i'll host a blog or two from her when she gets round to it.

other books i definitely recommend: the doors of perception by aldous huxley. he answers why people crave drugs. mescalin is his answer to alcohol. we harbor the extreme desire to really experience the presence about us in all its glory.

flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. this book will give you the means to happiness, how being absorbed in a task can transport you. lots and lots of examples.

and one i revisited a little while ago: doctor Zhivago by boris pasternak, as i browsed at barnes & noble. a new translation out and i spent time comparing it to the first and ended up hating the new one, its choppy, unpoetic style. you can see pictures of my visit to pasternak's house with two russian poets beginning here:

i'd sequestered vodka and three glasses in my pack. as we sat in the snow by pasternak's grave, i pulled them out. we drank a toast to the poet and i asked them to recite a couple of his poems in russian. one of my favorites:

"A candle burned on the table,

A candle burned on the table..."

his book turned me to poetry and i've never gotten over the passion.