On Reading and Pondering Deeply

Freedom Friday, Personal Narrative, Text Talk

Second Sokkai Gakkai president Josei Toda urged young people to read good books and to ponder things deeply. Even though Toda died in 1958, this advice is relevant today and is great encouragement for everyone. And, in fact, is a way to stay youthful despite your physical age.

What makes a book “good” to begin with? Is it informative? Inspirational? Energizing? Does it make you see things differently? Laugh? Perhaps good books do all of these things. Perhaps something else entirely.

books-158066_640A good book enriches me. It nourishes me in some way. A good books speaks to me, even if it’s a psychological thriller with a love story at its center.

A good book is not only worth reading, it is worth rereading. You come to it again to unlock new lessons, discover new images, uncover subtle nuances. It may touch you differently because of who you are this year, or what happened to you last season. Or because you’re finally ready to deal with that twenty-year old trauma. But sometimes you just want to check in on your favorite characters and reminisce about old times.

As for pondering deeply, many  refuse ponder at all, much less deeply. Social media platforms are filled with incoherent ramblings from knee-jerk reactions to hearsay. Some who claim to have researched a hot-button issue have limited their reading to the title of click-bait, which is designed to be sensational rather than informative.

Pondering is slow. Much slower than the skim-swipe-share culture of today. It requires one to engage with one’s brain and with a variety of ideas.

Pondering is dialogue, not declaration.

It is inquiry rather than assumption.

It is research and reflection, not regurgitation.

I wonder if in 2015 we can slow down, read good books and ponder things deeply. Let’s engage each other in conversations (on social media and in real life) grounded in wisdom, thoughtfulness, and respect for diverse views.

Free Your Mind Friday

Freedom Friday, Personal Narrative

“Why oh why must it be this way
Before you can read me you gotta
Learn how to see me, I said
Free your mind and the rest will follow”

This song is on repeat in my brain.

I can’t point to a reason why, but I’ve found myself thinking, saying and writing free your mind all this week. Maybe it’s because I’m reading Assata. Or because I’m being more intentional about nurturing my passion. Perhaps it’s a divine message requiring meditation and integration because I’ve spend too much time thinking inside the box.

Sometimes think boxes are okay. They’re predictable. Comfortable. You know the boundaries. You understand the rules. But I’ve always been a tad bit claustrophobic, and if we’re being honest, comfort doesn’t alway suit me. Thinking through new ideas, adopting new ways of being – these things are energizing and inspiring.

Freeing.

I’m releasing or refining habits and practices I’ve outgrown and adopting new ones. I’m continuing my daily writing through journals and morning pages, and trying out a new approach to storytelling. I abandoned plyometrics for the winter and tried a new combination of yoga and Pilates to challenge my body in new ways. These and other things I’m doing in an effort to truly build my temple, evolve, and be free.

My Whiskey, Wine & Moonshine co-hosts and I had an interesting conversation about self-checks and the power of habit. As we enter week 2 of 2015, what are some projects you’re embracing? What are you discarding? How do you know when it’s time to release and refresh?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.