From My Reading This Week: The Joy of Being Awake and Alive

I am currently reading An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. She talks about her awakening and growing awareness of herself as a child this way:

“Who could ever tire of this heart-stopping transition, of this breakthrough shift between seeing and knowing you see, between being and knowing you be? it drives you to a life of concentration, it does, a life in which effort draws you down so very deep that when you surface you twist up exhilarated with a yelp and a gasp.
Who could ever tire of this radiant transition—this surfacing to awareness and this deliberate plunging to oblivion—the theater curtain rising and falling? Who could tire of it when the sum of those moments at the edge—the conscious life we so dread losing—is all we have, the gift at the moment of opening it?”

I’ve had a few of these moments lately, moments of yelps and gasps, moments that feel like a gift at the moment of opening it.

Also, I love Annie Dillard’s writing. So beautiful.

From My Readings: Jack Kerouac via Natalie Goldberg

Last April I read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. In it she quotes Jack Kerouac. I’ve been working on my 35th Year Manifesto, the rules by which I want to live my life in the next year. These ideas are part of it:

  • Accept Loss Forever
  • Be submissive to everything, open, listening
  • No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language and knowledge
  • Be in love with your life!

From My Readings: We Are All Falling

“As we fall, I think about my mother and father. I think about the people I loved. I think about the people I hated. I think about the people I betrayed. I think about the people who have betrayed me.
We’re all the same people. And we are all falling.”

From Flight by Sherman Alexie

Despite my extreme annoyance at Alexie’s recent ignorant tweet about homebirthers, I still have to admit that this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Irreverent, funny, sad, powerful.

The idea in this passage has been the lesson of my last few months. We make such a big deal of everything that separates us, all of the differences, but we are all so very much the same. We are all connected, doing our best, making the best choices we can as we fall forward into our lives. We don’t have to allow continued harm into our lives, but we can be the end to the endless circle of judgement and anger. We can begin to forgive, to be compassionate, to see the truth: “We’re all the same people.”

Summer Reading List

I’m so excited to take the summer off. One thing I’m looking forward to most is reading! Reading for fun!

Here’s my list so far, in no particular order:

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The Seven Mouths of God by Megan K. Olsen

The Color of Water by James McBride

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates

Mother Wove the Morning by Carol Lynne Pearson

Granite and Rainbow by Virginia Woolf

An American Childhood by Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (reread)

Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir by Laurel Ulrich and Emma Lou Warner Thayne

That ought to keep me busy, but I welcome any suggestion for additions. Or substitutions. I imagine I’ll also read some fun YA stuff with my big kids. I haven’t read any of Brandon Mull’s Beyonders series yet. And Matthew’s working through Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle In Time series, so I may find myself joining him in that. I love her books.

What about you? What will you be reading this summer?