Oh my gosh, you guys and gals. I was sitting in a restaurant, and a wall hanging came loose from the wall, fell, and hit me on the head! I was stunned, but felt okay. However, the next day, my head started hurting badly, and I went to the emergency room. I was diagnosed with a mild concussion and have been recuperating ever since. I’m finally feeling well enough to tell you all about it! Well, actually, I’m only feeling well enough to tell you a little bit about it. I’ll tell you more next time. But not to worry, the doctors say I will be completely back to normal very soon. Hope your September has been treating you better than it’s been treating me!
A new article, written by yours truly, is live on the Silent Book Club blog. It’s called How to Organize and Host a Book Club. If you’ve ever considered starting a local chapter, this article is for you.
Silent Book Club is an international organization with dozens of chapters around the U.S. and world. At a Silent Book Club event, friends meet to talk about books (or any topic!), drink wine (or any beverage!), and read books (or any reading material!). Attendees bring their own book, e-book, or magazine—whatever they are currently reading. It’s an opportunity to chat with other book lovers and get some personal reading done.
Does this sound like fun? Check out the Silent Book Club website to search for a chapter near you. If there’s no chapter near you—or even if there is, but you’d like to meet at a different time or place—consider starting your own chapter. It’s not as hard as you might think.
As a bonus, if you’re looking to beef up the leadership section of your professional resume, organizing and hosting a group like this is a great way to do so. (I am convinced that serving as president of my local Toastmasters chapter, about five years ago, was key in landing my current position at a great company.)
As a second bonus, starting a book club is a great way to give back to your community. Has anyone ever kindly welcomed you in, when you were the newbie in town or in a social group? Starting a book club is one way that you can pay it forward and be the one welcoming people in.
Check out my article here to read 7 great tips for starting a book club of the silent variety. (We’re actually rather loud, to tell the truth!) Happy Wednesday, everyone, and happy reading!
Hello, fellow residents of our beautiful planet! I am writing this blog post from a cute Danish cafe in London. Here is a photo I took from my seat in the cafe. If you know me at least a bit, and if you look closely at the photo, you may be able to guess my favorite part of it. However, as that detail is rather inconsequential, let me tell you something of greater importance. Let me tell you how I got here.
Oops! How I got here is inconsequential, too. I flew. (That last sentence was a clue, RE the detail in the photo!) It was a long flight—at least for a travelphobe like me. I finished a book. Exciting! I love finishing books. But in the scheme of things, that was not so exciting, really, so let me please get to my point. Let me tell you why I got here.
Four months ago, as I explained in my post from January 25 called Dreams, I had a dream. I dream vividly most nights; but only the rare dream manifests as a sort of lesson-cum-guidepost, express from my unconscious mind.
In the dream, I bought a flight to London. I bought the ticket amidst a group of friends, as part of a special discount rate; but each of us was traveling separately, and I would be traveling alone. Once I arrived in London, I discovered that my family was staying in nearby rooms. However, I decided to ignore them, since they wanted to do things that I didn’t. What I really wanted to do while in London was see a performance at the Paris Opera House; and that’s what I was making plans to do when I woke up.
Strangely enough, this relates to the book I finished on the plane. I’ll be writing previews of that book shortly. This story about my dream and how it influenced my life will perhaps be useful as we try to piece together the central philosophical problem laid out in that book. But I am getting off track again! So here’s what happened next.
Upon waking, I understood that the dream was important, but I wasn’t sure what it meant. In full—that is, partial—disclosure, there was also a segment of the dream that pertained to my love life. I would not like to share the details; I would merely like to note that the dream had multiple significances to me. (A multiple significance, in case you were wondering, is somewhat similar to a multiple orgasm, except that it’s not just for women; but I am getting off track again!) And so, realizing that my unconscious mind may have been trying to tell my conscious mind something, I kept thinking about the dream.
Within a few days, I was astonished to realize that I wanted to take a solo trip to London and Paris. This might not seem like such an astonishing wish to you; lots of people want to go to London and Paris. It was shocking to me, however, because I have always been a travelphobe.
There were so many things about travel that frightened me. I was scared my plane would crash. I was scared I would get irredeemably lost in trying to navigate public transportation. I was scared I would lose my passport or get beaten or harrassed or raped. I was scared I would spend a ridiculous amount of money, only to instantly get homesick for my garden and birds (that was another clue!). I was scared I would be obliged to do something touristy that I didn’t want to do.
But most of all, I was scared that the jostling and angled sunshine and lack of sleep that are inherent to travel would trigger a migraine. As I explained in my post from December 26 called Medical Mysteries (Part 2), I have suffered from periodic migraines for my whole life. They always last exactly ten days. They are debilitating, involving level-10 pain, aversion to light and noise, expulsion of stomach contents, and much moaning and rolling around amidst bedsheets.
As I explained in that post from last December, I had been unexpectedly rescued by magnesium in an easily absorbable form. I had not experienced a ten-day migraine since beginning my vitamin supplement regimen; and that happy streak continues to this day.
A miracle! Was it a god of travel—perhaps Hermes, a.k.a. Mercury—who had come to my aid?! But I will stay on track with this story, I promise.
The point is, my unconscious mind had realized, long before the “I” that I’m better acquainted with did, that my recent deliverance from periodic migraine hell opened up the door for me to travel. It further realized that my dilapidated and largely nonexistent love life would be a boon to me while traveling, for I would not have to compromise on how I would spend my time. Moreover, it realized that London was a perfect destination for doing things I love to do—namely, enjoying literature and music. Finally, it realized that the Paris Opera House is not that far from London, in the global scheme of things; and what, it mused, is the point of middle age, if not to fulfill fantasies you had while 12 or 13 years old?
Yes—in my youth, I had an obsession with The Phantom of the Opera, both the book and the musical. So I am going to go see that old building where some of the events depicted really occurred (and where some, being romantic exaggerations, did not). And I’m going to do many other literary- and musical-type activities in Paris; and I’m going to attempt to say something comprehensible in the language, and to understand something someone says to me. Because my adult, conscious mind has realized that the Paris Opera House is merely a sentimental excuse to force me to venture very far outside of my comfort zone. To experience something that, sure, lots of people experienced at a much younger age, but I have not yet: to be alone in a faraway culture of people who speak a language that’s foreign to me.
Speaking of language—I have been enjoying hearing British accents all around me. This is not a “pigeon” English, but the genuine article. (That was your third and final clue! If you have not solved the puzzle by now, I fear there is no hope for you . . . though perhaps the answer will come to you in a dream.)
But back to the point. The point is that the human brain has both conscious and unconscious parts. Managing the interplay between the two of them, in my experience, is key to living wisely. To be solely led by one or the other is a grievous mistake. In conclusion, here is a view of the interior of the Danish cafe, behind me. There are no hidden secrets in this photo . . . at least not that I know of. Those are elsewhere. Has your unconscious mind spoken to you lately?
Check out my new article on the Silent Book Club blog. It’s called Where Have You Been All My Life?
Have you ever experienced a stunning moment when you felt struck by the simplicity of an idea, and instantly sure of your next move? I did, two years ago. Read all about it here!
In the meantime, as you’re reading that article, and as you and I wait for our next huge thunderbolt of a realization or discovery or unique happenstance . . . I’ll be in the air over the Atlantic Ocean! More on that next time. Meanwhile, keep on reading, folks. You never know what you might find when you open a cover and venture into strings of words. . . .
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- Something Fell and Hit Me on the Head! September 23, 2019
- The Inquisitive One Completes the V.I.T. Just in Time September 11, 2019
- How I Learned to Write (Part 1: Was It in College?) September 9, 2019
- A New Name: One Aspect of Transition September 6, 2019
- A Health Interlude September 4, 2019
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The Gift Hafiz
The Collected Schizophrenias Esmé Weijun Wang
Your Duck Is My Duck Deborah Eisenberg
Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari
Milkman Anna Burns
Under the Banner of Heaven Jon Krakauer
Waiting for Bojangles Olivier Bourdeaut
A Mind Unraveled Kurt Eichenwald
Eugénie Grandet Honoré de Balzac
The Body Keeps the Score Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
The Bookshop Penelope Fitzgerald
Digital Minimalism Cal Newport
The Sisters Brothers Patrick deWitt
Dare to Lead Brené Brown
My Year of Rest and Relaxation Ottessa Moshfegh
Almost Everything Anne Lamott
Born to Run Christopher McDougall, Bruce Springsteen
The Ladies’ Paradise Émile Zola
The World Beyond Your Head Matthew B. Crawford
All the Birds, Singing Evie Wyld
Barracoon Zora Neale Hurston
Dandelion Wine Ray Bradbury
Home Fire Kamila Shamsie
The Weather Detective Peter Wohlleben
Play It As It Lays Joan Didion
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Mark Manson
Convenience Store Woman Sayaka Murata
Perfect Me Heather Widdows
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace Patty Yumi Cottrell
Why Buddhism Is True Robert Wright
What Is Real? Adam Becker
Kudos Rachel Cusk
The Days of Abandonment Elena Ferrante
F*cked Corinne Fisher & Krystyna Hutchinson
Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine Alan Lightman
Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace
A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf