#NYOR2012 Amazing

Amazing! This is the theme for the first month of the Australian National Year of Reading.

And so to kick off my involvement I will proclaim that The Most Amazing Book I Have Ever Read is “Illusions: the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.

It begins…

“1. There was a Master come unto the Earth, born in the holy land of Indiana, raised in the mystical hills of Fort Wayne.”

It is a precious jewel of a book offering a gentle and positive slant on life. I love the mystical spiritual elements that are grounded in the real world of squashed insects on windscreens and greasy hands. We are gently urged to look beyond the veil of reality where something amazing might be revealed.

It is a story about two pilots who fly small planes around the USA selling rides in small town America. They meet and discuss Life. Don is the Teacher and the Richard is the Seeker.

Where do you learn all this stuff, Don? You know so much, or maybe I just think you do. No. You do know a lot. Is it all practice? Don’t you get any formal training to be a Master?”

“They give you a book to read.”

The book is revealed: Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul; a source of wise and interesting sayings.

I tend not to keep hold of many books once I’ve read them, but Illusions is the exception that I will keep and reread. I used to loan it to others but it never came back, so now I keep my own copy. And who can blame anyone for wanting to keep a copy for themselves.

It sits alongside Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig in a genre all of their own. Whilst Zen is complex, Illusions is a simple tale. Both gently coerce you into a deeper insight.

                        “Argue for you limitations and sure enough they’re yours.”

Choose your Guru

Have you noticed how many self-proclaimed gurus there are on the internet now? With the blossoming of online social networking there have emerged, dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people happily doling out advice to anyone who will listen.

Who are these experts? And what makes them so knowledgeable? Many I’ve noticed are perhaps 20-something in age. Have they lived? Learned? Made mistakes? The confidence, certainty, and arrogance with which many espouse their views stun me. They preach and prattle and fill blog after blog with dot-point precision. Here is a random selection: How to become a Level 80 Twitter Ninja; How to go tribal and sell a truckload of books; Nine Ways To Build a Bridge Between Who You Were and Who You AreThe You, the Me and the We – How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter | Stayin’ Alive; Choose the Bigger Life; No Pressure Knitting. And I could add many more examples but I’m sure you’ve found your own. Everyone is an expert.

Now I realise that many use the social networking neighbourhood for their own self-improvement and education and blogging about it is their way of sorting through the crap and working out their own ideas. But to offer these often infantile notions firmly as well thought out, tried and true rules for living is ridiculous in my humble opinion. I don’t mind reading some of these blogs and twitters but the increase in the number of people doing this is astonishing. And some appear to have all the authenticity and credibility of a Snake Oil Salesman. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this.

mandelbrot-set

Where are the humble folk who stumble through life like me? The older I get, the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. Life is chaos and can present things to you that you had never imagined. Life can’t be totally planned, controlled or “manifested”. Perhaps because this is my belief then it is my experience. But I do find solace in the Chaos Theory because I don’t have much faith in the attempts of Man to tame the world to the one I would choose. I prefer to believe a higher power holds the aces and will create a world that is far more enriching and awesome and unbelievable than what my humble mind can imagine. So I enjoy seeing the weeds appear in the cracks in the concrete. I am in awe of the Mandelbrot set. I love to see the NASA images from the Hubble telescope of the worlds beyond this Earth.

The philosophies I like to live by in dot-points and at this point in time are:

  • Leave no footprints
  • The Theory of Chaos
  • Live in The Now
  • Be Kind
  • Create your own life
  • Do stuff
  • Keep it simple
  • Appreciate and be grateful
  • Learn more stuff
  • Be optimistic
  • See The Big Picture
  • Be authentic

There remain the constant big names in personal development who have written books on the topic, established themselves as leading thinkers, and have now joined the social networking scene: The Dalai Lama; Deepak Chopra; Dr. Wayne Dyer; Marianne Williamson; Eckhart Tolle, and others. Of course the wisdom of the ages can’t be ignored and these sources stand apart: The Bible; the teachings of Buddha; the words of Jesus Christ; A Course In Miracles; etc, etc. You know them as well as I do.

Newcomers to the scene who are making an impression are: Leo Babauta of Zen Habits; Gary Vayerchuk. But the stampede for recognition in this area is scary. What are they hoping for? A well paid talking circuit? 68,000 followers on Twitter or Facebook? Nirvana? Bliss? Who knows? Not me!

Here are some more dot-points which form my humble advice about how to live a happy fulfilling life:

  • Turn off the computer/laptop/mobile phone/handheld device/whatever
  • Look up from the screen
  • Pat your cat and hear it purr
  • Look out the window
  • Go outside – yes outside!
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Take your kids to the local park or playground
  • Kick a football or throw a ball
  • Walk down the street
  • Talk to a local – then really listen to what they have to say
  • Have a coffee and a chat with a friend at a local cafe
  • Return home
  • Have a conversation with a family member
  • Cook a healthy meal
  • Smile
  • Get a good night’s sleep

Indeed reject my advice in favour of your own self-discovered words of wisdom and lifestyle.

Life lessons

Strange how life seems to take us two steps forwards then one step backwards. Why is this? I try to be philosophical and positive. Is it just life? Is it life lessons, challenges, and tests we must face in order to grow, understand, and become wise and enlightened?

I have made positive decisions and steps forward with my career choices. I was happy with my progress. I had bravely stepped out of my comfort zone, stepped into new environments, joined new teams, stepped-up in terms of delivery of information services, and learnt many new systems and work flows.

All was great. My service to all customers was outstanding I believe. So what happened? I was recommended. Now I find myself back where I was before. I am back in a school library, minding the desk, supervising teenagers, and trying not to get bored and fill my day somehow. I am not a teacher so my usefulness in this situation is limited. I long for the satisfaction of meeting the numerous questions posed by a demanding public in a busy community library. I want to get back to helping committed adult students in a diverse tertiary organisation. I was there and now I’m not again!

This step “backwards” or “sideward” is temporary and I hope I don’t lose the ground I had covered and was enjoying. Yawn….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh?! Was that a bell?

In my quest to understand life’s little lessons, I read self-help books and go online to research. I read blogs from people who write about inspiration, creativity, freedom, and self-actualization. Zen Habits, Marianne Williamson’s JournalUnshelved, Someday Syndrome, Creative Liberty, The Happiness Project, and many blogs by people who love France.