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Friday, May 3, 2013

Literopathy - Prescribing Books

I'm taking part in a great collaborative effort of ingenuity and genius that's called Literopathy. Over at this blog, people write in with problems they are experiencing in everyday life...and we prescribe them books. I have the honor of replying to this letter, sent in by anonymous.

"Hi, I'm smack dab in the middle of my life; a mother, wife and dutiful employee. I have heard the call of my heart, career wise (life wise, spirit wise) but don't know how to move from where I'm at to where I believe I need to be. The call is powerful and potent, but the restrictions are things of my own choosing and things I love and can't give up. Do I heed the call of the universe, and do what I'm supposed to do? If so, how? Or do I tend to practical things only. It seems so late in life to make such changes. What should I read to help me make my future clear?" 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a crystal ball, to just feel sure of where we're going and what we're doing? To have a goal, to know we're meant for great things, that all this humdrum and routine bull**** is actually worth something, actually going somewhere? Aren't we all adventurers in our own special ways?

And when we can't be adventuring, when we really can't make the endless piles of paperwork, red tape, dirty diapers and dishes, or what have you turn magically into creative fodder and ambitious design, don't we deserve to rekindle our lust for that spark. That you-must-do-this spark? Don't we all wish to see our protagonists hurled into a set of coincidences that force them into action, that not only pause their dull lives but alter that course forever?

The books we're about to recommend are not what one might call 'works of literary genius.' They haven't won (too many) prizes, or brought in accolades. In fact, some of them have been criticized a bit, and for good reason. If you're not willing to fly by the seat of your pants, let go of disbelief and truly adventure, these books aren't going to do it for you. But, trust this, they do do it. And that's important. And magical. And when I (the person writing this prescription, not the entire group) read them in my 20s, they completely turned my life around because I was able to grasp onto the inner context of the messages. I was able to turn the inspiration inward to myself. They gave me hope that I, too, could find that kind of hope, adventure, love, strength, definition in my life. If only I could let go of the practical, even just for moments at a time.

The important thing to remember is that to experience a change, you have to be open to it. You have to see it. And we cannot see change if we're knee-deep in laundry wishing the universe would just tell us already what the heck we're doing here. "Be the change you want to see in the world." Someone important said that. I'm sure creator of this site, Anne Theriault, knows who it is. But I don't, so just trust me.

Okay, with all this in mind, mid-life, routinized-to-death anon, here is a book that may convince you that you don't have to give up those daily choices you make to also follow your calling. That you have the ability to do both, if you just put faith in yourself and let life and all its unpredictability in just a little bit.

Here's the blurb on Goodreads (and I share it in its entirety for a reason, stand by.)

"The Celestine Prophecy contains secrets that are currently changing our world. Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your own life right now...and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come!

A book that has been passed from hand to hand, from friend to friend, since it first appeared in small bookshops across America, The Celestine Prophecy is a work that has come to light at a time when the world deeply needs to read its words. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life...and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimism as you head into tomorrow."

In 2005, a friend of mine, a reporter I knew, handed me this book (along with Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, which you should also read as it pertains to your interests). It was wrapped with a bow and everything, but it wasn't a present. "You need to read this now, I think," he said. And that was it.

And he was right. 

A reviewer sums it up fairly well: "On first read, I wanted to throw it in the bin. On the second read, I let go of the fact that it was badly written and the characters were bad and all the other flaws. I don't think it was ever intended to be a work of literary wonder but as an accessible vehicle for ideas."

That's what it looks like you're looking for. Ideas. And not Redfield's ideas, but your own ideas. In this way, your reading experience will mimic the actual prescription for you, which is, let go a little bit, let the small stuff slide, don't be so critical (of yourself), and allow others to help you find your way.

Now, if you really, truly hate this book (because a lot of people do! I'm going out on a limb here, recommending it to you), may I suggest as mentioned previously Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. It's like The Celestine Prophecy only written well and funnier.

"Switters is a contradiction for all seasons: an anarchist who works for the government; a pacifist who carries a gun; a vegetarian who sops up ham gravy; a cyberwhiz who hates computers; a man who, though obsessed with the preservation of innocence, is aching to deflower his high-school-age stepsister (only to become equally enamored of a nun ten years his senior). Yet there is nothing remotely wishy-washy about Switters. He doesn’t merely pack a pistol. He is a pistol. And as we dog Switters’s strangely elevated heels across four continents, in and out of love and danger, discovering in the process the “true” Third Secret of Fatima, we experience Tom Robbins—that fearless storyteller, spiritual renegade, and verbal break dancer—at the top of his game. On one level this is a fast-paced CIA adventure story with comic overtones; on another it’s a serious novel of ideas that brings the Big Picture into unexpected focus; but perhaps more than anything else, Fierce Invalids is a sexy celebration of language and life."

Of course, there is also and always, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

"This is a story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules...people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves...people who know there's more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than ever they dreamed."

(Hey, at least I didn't recommend any Deepak Chopra, right?)


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