In this universe we are given two gifts: the ability to love and the ability to ask questions. Which are, at the same time, the fires that warm us and the fires that scorch us.
~ Mary Oliver, “The Bright Eyes of Eleanora: Poe’s Dream of Recapturing the Impossible,” from Upstream
After reading Murakami’s book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, I decided to create a simple journal of the same name. I fill it out after each run with date, time, & distance. Then I add in an anecdote or two about the run – how I felt, what I saw, what made the run significant or not. It’s a nice way to catalogue my time running.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a must read for anyone who considers such things as end-of-life care, elder-care, and helping or working with people at that stage in life. We have prolonged life and yet we still struggle with how to discuss death openly and clearly. Even moreso we struggle with how to help elderly people make decisions that honor their autonomy and that honor their sense of what gives their life meaning at that point in life. Meaning and autonomy are the two takeaways that we must honor for people as they age. This is a great read.
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Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chris Dombrowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a GREAT book – even if one is not into fly fishing or fishing at all. There’s a depth to the stories that are shared – an arc, if you will. I learned more about the Bahamas, bone-fish and the history of the place, the people who live there and make their livelihood guiding. In addition, Chris’s writing is dense – I often would find myself needing to take a break from reading to consider what it was he was getting at. There was beauty in the writing, as well.
Chris plays a little geographic travel with this as he will compare fly fish guiding in Montana, where he does this, to guiding in the Bahamas. He also attempts to touch on how very wealthy people buy land in order to preserve it and keep it from having resources exploited. It’s a mixed bag in a sense – in that if government won’t do it, then perhaps those with means can, will and should (?).
Near then end his writing goes deep with the ideas of presence, longevity, dreams, and what makes a life worthwhile. There’s an existential element to the book that captures more than one can see and/or experience.
His ability to convey the depth of the lives of the people in this book is exceptional. It doesn’t make me want to go there (to the Bahamas), but makes me want to be more present and aware of my current circumstances. Traveling there would be wonderful I imagine, but that’s not the point of this book. The point is presence, clarity and understanding. I highly recommend this book.
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I receive an email newsletter from Jack Cheng, an author. It comes to me once a week on Sunday evenings and I find it a nice way to turn the page towards the new week ahead. In yesterday’s note, he wrote the following regarding travel, which took me back to my days of travel. I found what he wrote hit home on many levels, too. It was the last sentence that stuck, however:
A few weeks ago I was telling A., who hasn’t traveled much, about this trip, and he said that the thought of being in a foreign country without knowing the local language gives him anxiety an order of magnitude higher than anything else. It was something about the combination of being able to navigate and get basic needs met, and also the thought of being judged for not speaking the native tongue. It’s a familiar anxiety, one that I felt and still feel at times, especially places in Asia where the signs are written in an unfamiliar alphabet. The anxiety is partly rooted in some deep perfectionism, a fear of being laughably unskilled at something. But as for the food-shelter-transport thing, over time I’ve learned that the difficulties of travel when they present themselves are rarely as devastating as I had previously imagined, and even when they are challenging they are never life-threatening. It can be immensely fun to stumble through conversation with only nouns and hand signals, or to walk into a drug store and find that they stock a different but overlapping set of items than the ones back home. The worst parts of travel (and nearly everything else) are the anxieties we have about those things before they happen. It’s as though we have little faith in our future selves.