Tuesday, March 9, 2010

reading for pleasure

With my friend Julia holding my internet-challenged hand, I am preparing the book I wrote for inclusion in the world of Kindle and other read-it-online applications.

Actually, Julia is doing the work since even the simplest of how-to internet instructions leave me gasping for air. But she told me on the phone yesterday that in the world of on-line reading, you put reviews of the book right at the front of the internet presentation.

So I went and looked up some reviews and was forced to read them for typos.

The book, self-published in 2007, now seems a bit old and stale in my mind, but reading the reviews made me think, as if someone else had written it, that it was a book I might like to read. A strange sensation.

The reviews -- all of them complimentary, of course -- were, with the exception of one that was a bit boisterous-if-fun, the kind of praise that I could listen to, hear, and be at home with. I found myself pleased that even one person liked it, but the question whispered, "Who is the guy who wrote this book? Oh yeah, that was me."

In the past, I have been habituated to not receive praise well, to open myself to it, to enjoy it and let it flow through: Some glass-half-empty was always waiting for the other shoe to drop ... the mirror image of wallowing in it. But last night as I read those reviews, it was pleasing and I found myself allowing the tail to be stuck on the donkey: "Isn't that kool?" And yes, it was kool. And there was no other shoe, no yes-but rearing its head like some wicked stepmother.

Strange how matters of the past can so often be matters of regret...or at least for me. Others, I know, can glory in the past, find solace and support and reaffirmation. But it occurred to me that finding regret is really not a whole lot different from finding affirmation ... it's just another affirmation, though not, perhaps, so tasty and warming as relying on and wallowing in the accomplishments.

But last night, I just found myself enjoying it all. I wasn't entirely sure what I was enjoying (the guy who wrote that book and the words written in it are gone), but I knew that enjoying myself was fun. A nice birthday present, somehow.


  1. Allow me to pile on.

    You are a gifted writer and teacher and I am glad every day--even the days when I don't have time to do more than skim--that I stumbled across your blog. Your first post (the first one I read today) is good enough that I'm thinking of using it as the nucleus of an Easter sermon.

  2. Susan -- I would be interested in your take. Just make sure you allow your audience to lose their faith: It's the only road I know of to a useful faith.

  3. I've been meaning to circle back around and answer this note. I'll be speaking to a bunch of Unitarians so faith is kind of a four-letter word. Some have faith in faith, but I don't. I don't want you to tell me the answer. I want you to show me your work.

    The reason I wanted to read "Safe and Sound" for Easter is because I always try to talk about life and death on that day. This passage is just about perfect for that:

    "There, there ... birth and death are not just some talking point; they are what actually happens and is that really so bad, so sad, so confusing, so depressing, so lonely?"

    The answer to that question is both "no" and "yes."

    I hope they get it.

  4. It takes faith to believe that things are "so bad, so sad, so confusing, so depressing, so lonely." It takes faith to disbelieve the same things.

    There really is no out-thinking or out-emoting the rising or the setting sun. "Yes" and "no" have nothing to do with it.