Skip to main content

Reading Resolution Reflections


 "I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death."

With the recent world events and alarming responses by many Americans, I've been reflecting on such passages from Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom.

Finishing Mandela's autobiography was one of my New Year's resolutions, and I finally completed my goal during Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on October 17. To my recollection, the only book that took me longer to read from cover to cover was The Bible. I believe I spent 2.5 years reading The Bible straight through and over 1.5 years reading Long Walk to Freedom.

Fittingly, I find myself looking to both epic stories for strength during these times. I find myself asking "What would Jesus do?" and "What would Mandela do?" Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, as a Christian, I am not equating the two by any means. I just think think back to Mandela's words, and I am inspired to try to act in kindness and love to those whose behavior is fueled by fear, ignorance or hate.

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” 

I realize if I, and those like me, continue to just remove the racist, xenophobic and otherwise prejudicial people from our lives, those angry people will only associate with and be influenced by the like-minded, hateful mob. Divisions will only grow deeper.

 “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


Completing Long Walk to Freedom was only part of my reading goal for the year. I also resolved to finish 20 books. At the time of writing this, I completed 11. By the end of the year, I finished 15. 

2015 reading list, in order of completion:

  1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  2. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
  4. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  5. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
  6. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
  7. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  8. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
  9. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  10. Life's Journeys According to Mr. Rogers by Fred Rogers
  11. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
  12. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  13. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  14. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  15. Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder
 
As To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorite books, a book I've re-read more than maybe any other, I have conflicted feelings about Go Set a Watchman; sharing these feelings could fill a book report. I will say, I found many parallels to today's race relations, as well as treatment of the LGBT community. It never ceases to amaze me how much progress we've made, and yet still how much further, as a country, we have to go.

Of the 15 books I finished this year, Life of Pi and The Storyteller are my favorites.  

Life of Pi has probably made its way onto my all-time-favorite list. I plan to re-read it when I can devote the time to really reflect on its many messages.

“My greatest wish -- other than salvation -- was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One I could read again and again, with new eyes and a fresh understanding each time.” ~ Life of Pi

My final book, Pioneer Girl, is the extensively annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's the story, told in first person, that Laura wrote for her daughter, and from which the fictionalized Little House books are based. Although as a child, I did research and reports on my namesake, it wasn't until reading the introduction to this book that I really learned how Laura's stories materialized as the books devoured and beloved by so many generations.




Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 Tips for Packing Early for a Move

I think I'm having the most organized move of my life, and that includes all future moves. I should be; this move is taking forever to actually happen.

The tenants at my future home stopped paying rent over two months ago, and apparently that's how long it can take to evict someone in California. It's a frustrating saga I won't get into it.

I thought I would, however, share some of my tips for an organized move, especially tips on what you can do well in advance of actually moving.

1. Create a box or basket of moving supplies. You want one place to hold packing tape, scissors, your labeling pen, etc. You also want an organizational system for all the pins, pens, screws and batteries you'll come across. (Make sure to separate the working batteries from the dead.)

I like to use little jewelry boxes and small plastic containers to hold these items.


2. Tackle the garage (or wherever your junk space is).

Our garage is tiny (smaller than a standard one-car) and packed. It…

Halloween Decorations: How to Stuff a Life-Size Michael Myers

Michael Myers is our grand finale of decorations, the big kahuna.

The Michael Myers tradition started our first year in our first home.

Aaron had the brilliant idea of stuffing Michael and placing him in my office window, which faced the yard. You had to walk right past the window to get to our door. You couldn't miss Michael; even people driving by on the street would slow to check him out.

On Halloween, Michael amused many and frightened some. A few groups wondered out loud if he was real. Suddenly Michael would move (thanks to Aaron hididng in the office) and screams would ensue.

Eventually, Aaron closed the blinds, quickly un-stuffed Michael, stuffed himself inside and hid behind the front door. I would answer and Aaron would creep out or jump out. More screams.

The next day, we had a knock at our door. A group of kids asked Aaron if he could put the costume back on and chase them. But of course!

The group waited outside, expecting Aaron to come out the front door. He snuck…

Outdoor Oasis: How to Turn a Futon into a Porch Couch

I refer to my back porch as my outdoor oasis, not because it's the most beautiful or detailed, but simply because the furniture is comfortable and the atmosphere is peaceful. It's where I go to unwind, relax and read. And now thanks to a recent project to turn a futon into a porch couch, I have the ultimate reading and napping spot.

Last year, I wrote about getting rid of my busted up outdoor furniture, updating the salvageable and buying a futon to to use as my new outdoor couch.

Shortly after I painted the $20 queen-size, solid-wood futon with outdoor white paint, I got busy getting ready for my move and never updated with the final result.



I love it.