“The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo

Recently, I was walking by Thunderbolt Books, one of my favorite bookstores, and made the mistake of walking in. Why a mistake? Because I usually buy a new book when I’m there, and lord knows that I don’t need any more new books before I finish the 140 that are already in the queue, yeesh.

However, this one I could justify (totally!) because it’s a daybook — one short chapter per day. Piece o’ cake! Also, three different sources had recommended it to me, so I had to find out what the fuss was all about. I flipped through it and recognized instantly: it’s a keeper.

The entry I read today was particularly powerful, so I’d like to share with you some of the jewel-like lucidity of The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo:

January 20: Being Easily Pleased

One key to knowing joy is being easily pleased.

So many of us have been trained to think that being particular about what we want is indicative of good taste, and that not being satisfied unless our preferences are met is a sign of worldliness and sophistication. I remember being at a party where a woman wouldn’t accept her drink unless is was made with a certain brand of vermouth. She was, in fact, indignant about it. Or going to dinner with a colleague who had to have his steak prepared in a complex and special way, as if this particular need to be different was his special public signature. Or watching very intelligent men and women inscibe their circle of loneliness with criteria for compansionship that no one could meet. I used to maintain such a standard of excellence around the sort of art I found acceptable.

Often, this kind of discernment is seen as having high standards, when in actuality it is only a means of isolating ourselves from being touched by life, while rationalizing that we are more special than those who can’t meet our very demanding standards.

The devastating truth is that excellence can’t hold you in the night, and, as I learned when ill, being demanding or sophisticated won’t help you survive…

I’m going to buy me a stack of these and give them away to friends. So either become my friend, or go get thee thine own copy. I’ve been reading some great books recently, so more of these to come.


Dr Ali B

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