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Contemplify Nonrequired Reading List Email for December 24, 2016
The October NonRequired Reading List
The year is coming to a close...and what a year we’ve endured. The pangs and yearnings of this election cycle, the changes in climate, and the falsification of news weigh heavy during this natural season of reflection. And yet we have reason for gratitude, we all have loved ones getting married, welcoming new life into this world, belly laughs with friends and books that make us pause and challenge our current mode of thinking. Are we up to the challenge of living in an uncertain season of life? My family has decided to eschew ourselves from the foolhardy banter of feeds and followers and dip into the pools of periodicals and newspapers founded on a relationship of trust and accountability. Wisdom is rarely found in the flash of kneejerk op-eds so we are additionally committing ourselves to read more books than posts. My hope for all of us is that we take into account what material we consume and embrace in 2017. With great discernment and I share with you my favorite books I read in 2016.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The sheer beauty of language makes this book a worthwhile read. Tears will be close to your eyes as you flip the pages. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and his final act as human being was to document his story. The grace, generosity and grit in which he lived the perennial questions of life will inspire action in your own: what is the meaning of one’s life? What legacy am I leaving behind? And how then shall I live when I know that my days are numbered? The cliche ‘life is short’ is rendered true and yet missing the point as Paul embraces the value of each breath with integrity, dignity and great love. Run to your local library and find this book.
Management Challenges for the 21st Century by Peter Drucker
This article was first published in the Harvard Business Review in 1999. Rather than being a mere business self-help article, it is a piece of personal empowerment to live and work by founded on your core values. Drucker uses the most basic of human questions to expound on making an impact during your lifetime - What are my strengths? How do I perform? Where do I belong? What is my contribution? This short read will give you more than enough gusto to reflect on the intentions behind your everyday actions.
The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila (translated by Mirabai Starr)
Mirabai Starr’s introduction alone is worth the effort of getting your hands on this classic Christian mystical text.
"There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxi cation so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway… Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation.” (selected from pp. 1 - 3)
Starr’s introduction and translation gave flesh to this book that had I previously fallen asleep to reading (quite literally). Her updates in language fit the parlance of our times. St. Teresa of Avila guidance became words I could relate to, conceptualize and hold onto during the latter months of 2016. Teresa often carries the burden of emphasizing the split between body and spirit, I take solace in her timeless words that contradict that position,
“ What could be worse than not being at home in our own house? What hope do we have of finding rest outside of ourselves if we cannot be at ease within?” (p.62)
During this season of remembering, I have hunkered down...to become more deeply attuned to the boundaryless marriage of body and spirit and to give space to listen for the feelings and sensations that arise. It is a rich landscape that needs more attention and exploration for the sake of myself and others, and calls for a more positive contribution to this shared world of ours with as much goodness as I can offer.
The two most recent episodes of Contemplify…
016: The Other is Us: Connecting to Knowledge, Wisdom and One Another with Barbara A. Holmes (my favorite episode thus far)
Next on Contemplify…
018: The Past Has Arms: Risking Relationship with Ourselves So We Can Grow Up with James Hollis, PhD
“We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.”
- W.H. Auden
James Hollis, Ph. D., is a trained Jungian analyst at the Jung Institute of Zurich, Switzerland and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Washington Jung Society and author of numerous books including Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up, The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other, and most recently, Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives.
In this episode, James shares about his journey with Jungian psychology, the power of self-awareness and the inner work that is a paramount for growing up.
Listen well + read often,
Kindling the Examined Life
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