I've been reading a lot lately and the books have been helpful. Some people know I'm a Buddhist. I'm not a great Buddhist. I'm not an overly observant Buddhist, but I am a Buddhist (who celebrates Christmas because I like to give gifts, eat baked goods, spend time with my kids and watch Christmas specials). Most of my "practice" involves meditating, trying to behave myself and reading about Buddhism. I practice a Western form, which is closer to the kind Christmas Humphrey's practiced in England back at the turn of the 20th century.
The same time I picked up Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and "No Country for Old Men," I also checked out "Start Where You Are" by Pema Chodron. She's a Buddhist nun and writer. I'm not a fan of her Tonglen practice, which in my mind, is opening the softer part of your mind to the harder parts of the world. You try to take on the pain of the world and give back your joy and success. You do it without getting anything back, not even the smug satisfaction of doing the right thing. It's about building compassion and reducing attachment. This is spiritual heavy lifting and it scares the hell out of me.
The main thing I got out of the book was an awareness of those little bullshit conversations that go on inside our heads. It's easy to replay scenes back and add new dialog. Everybody sounds cooler when they've got time to script the tell-off, but it's not helpful. It's draining. You're not venting. You're not achieving anything other than maintaining the hostility.
All of this is fine and good, but so fucking what, right?
Well, the day I finished the book, was also the day I found out a pre-mediation session regarding my most favorite legal problem has been scheduled for Tuesday of this week. I found it out Thursday night (then again on Friday, when I got a second updated and amended version). Just another right book at the right time.
I could be flipping out and fretting, but I'm not. She'll have her say (in a legal sense of the word). I might get mine (so I've been told), but it doesn't happen the day before. It doesn't happen the day after. It just happens then and until then, I shouldn't have that conversation. Pretty good advice, don't you think?
Now, if I could just pick up the book that will tell me how to sell my book and make a few bucks, I'd really be getting somewhere.