Following up from my book recommendations in July, here are some books for you to consider reading in August.
3 Books In August 2015
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work
The follow-up to his bestseller The War of Art, Turning Pro navigates the passage from the amateur life to a professional practice.
When we turn pro, we give up a life that we may have become extremely comfortable with. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own.
The passage from amateur to professional is often achieved via an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We pass through a membrane when we turn pro. It’s messy and it’s scary. We tread in blood when we turn pro.
What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.
“When we turn pro, everything becomes very simple. Our aim centers on the ordering of our days in such a way that we overcome the fears that have paralyzed us in the past.
We now structure our hours not to flee from fear, but to confront it and overcome it. We plan our activities in order to accomplish an aim. And we bring our will to bear so that we stick to this resolution.
This changes our days completely.
It changes what time we get up and it changes what time we go to bed. It changes what we do and what we don’t do. It changes the activities we engage in and with what attitude we engage in them. It changes what we read and what we eat. It changes the shape of our bodies.
When we are amateurs, our life was about drama, about denial, about distraction. Our days were simultaneously full to the bursting point and achingly, heartbreakingly empty.
But we are not amateurs any more. We are different, and everyone in our lives sees it.”
Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up
Patricia Ryan Madison
In an irresistible invitation to lighten up, look around, and live an unscripted life, a master of the art of improvisation explains how to adopt the attitudes and techniques used by generations of musicians and actors.
Let’s face it: Life is something we all make up as we go along. No matter how carefully we formulate a script, it is bound to change when we interact with people with scripts of their own. Improv Wisdom shows how to apply the maxims of improvisational theater to real-life challenges, whether it’s dealing with a demanding boss, a tired child, or one of life’s never-ending surprises. Patricia Madson distills thirty years of experience into thirteen simple strategies, including Say Yes, Start Anywhere, Face the Facts, and Make Mistakes, Please, helping readers to loosen up, think on their feet, and take on everything life has to offer with skill, chutzpah, and a sense of humor.
“Are you sitting right now as you read? If so, then a chair, sofa, or bed is supporting you. You probably have not paid much attention to this fact until I mentioned it. Nor have you been thinking that someone designed the chair (sofa, bed, etc.); someone manufactured it; someone brought it to where you are sitting; someone paid for it—perhaps it was you. It is likely that many people (mostly unknown to you) had a hand in the chair’s creation and journey to where it is now. It is fair to say that you are receiving a service from the chair and from all of those people whose efforts were part of the story. Whether you notice it or not, whether you thank it or not, the chair offers you support, comfort. The chair is a silent gift.”
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Chödrön discusses:
• Using painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and courage
• Communicating so as to encourage others to open up rather than shut down
• Practices for reversing habitual patterns
• Methods for working with chaotic situations
• Ways for creating effective social action
“Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all the others behind—our drunken brother, our schizophrenic sister, our tormented animals and friends. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.
In the process of discovering bodhichitta, the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We jump into it. We slide into it. We tiptoe into it. We move toward it however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictably of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.”
Have you read any of these? What are you reading this month?