Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Goodreads challenge

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live (Gustav Flaubert)

I read books, and quite at lot of them. So when I read this challenge on Goodreads to read a book that was written in every year of your life, I was sold. You've got six months for every decade you've lived. 55 books in 30 months. That is the challenge I took.

Almost nobody tells why he or she ( a lot of she's) reads that book. I am posting my list here and the reason why that book was my choice.

1959: 100 Love Sonnets 

All things start and end with love

1960: To Kill a Mockingbird

A classic never read. Never will, If I don't begin now

1961: Stranger in a Strange Land 

Never read a Heinlein before. Seems you must have

1962: The essential Ghandi. 

Not one flew over the Chuckoo's nest, not a Clockwork Orange, but Ghandi.

1963: The Letters of Vincent van Gogh 

Perhaps I'll listen now Promised myself a visit to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam after reading this book

1964: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

Seen the movie a hundred times, now it's time to read the book

1965: The Homecoming 

A Pinter book should be disturbing, at least so I heard. Is it really?

1966: The Master and Margarita 

Recommended by a friend of mine, now is the time to finally read it.

1967: Tarnsman of Gor 

It's a man's world, but it ain't nothing...

1968: Dance of the Happy Shades

To raise the level a bit, a Pulizer prize winner

1969: The Peter Principle 

An old management ook, seen it often the Peter Principle, but never read the book

1970: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret 

Read it about thirty years ago in Dutch: Hallo meneer God, met Anna. So good.

1971: The Savage God: A Study of Suicide A study of suicide. 

A savage God?

1972: The Joy of Sex 

I was 14, and I would have given my left arm for this one. In honor of my memories.

1973: The Optimist's Daughter 

A poetic study of human relations. What more do I want?

1974: Wolf And The Dove 

It would have been on my mothers' shelf. This one is in honor of her.

1975: The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation 

" Stolen" from someones list.

1976: The Dore Illustrations of Dante's Devine Comedy 

 Every work of Gustav Dore is a work of art.

1977: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter 

Just had to add a real seventies book.

1978: Beauty A fairy tale? 

Where is the Beast?

1979: Sophie's Choice 

Couldn't keep it dry at the movie. Let's see what the book does to me.

1980: The Last Wife of Henry VIII 

A bit of history. A bit of romance. A bit of death.

1981: The Collected Poems 

349 pages of Sylvia Plath

1982: If Not Now, When?

 Indeed, if not read now, I never will I think.

1983: 'night, Mother 

A strange book. I like strange books.

1984: Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types 

Character and Temperament in the eighties. Interesting.

1985: The Handmaid's Tale 

Never heard of it, but the blurb sounds so good.

1986: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 


1987: Anne Frank Remembered 

I'm Dutch.

1988: The Book of Ruth 

A Christian book? I think not.

1989: Essential Tales and Poems

 688 pages of Poe. It won't take long to finish this book though.

1990: Play Dead 

The first Harlan Coben book. I have read a lot of his books, but not this one.

1991: Outlander 

The best kind of Time Travelling there is.

1992: The Club Dumas 

A mystery thriller with a history.

1993: Harvesting the Heart 

I like this book, if only for the title...

1994: The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness 

A journey into schizophrenia

1995: Don't Die, My Love 

A tear jerker should be in the list.

1996: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families 

Very curious how this business man (never home) think a family is effective!

1997: Ella Enchanted 

My daughters favourite book, She must have read it oh maybe 60 times, I never did.

1998: Girl With a Pearl Earring 

I wouldn't be much of a Van Meegeren if I skipped this one, now would I?

1999: The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

Heard a lot of good things about this book. Time to make up my own mind.

2000: Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl - A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship 

Never too old to learn, I always say.

2001: Kushiel's Dart 

Oh, I am so looking forward to reading this book again.

2002: Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" 

Sleeping beauty again. No Beast.

2003: The Time Traveler's Wife 

Other books in this year could never compete with this one.

2004: Cloud Atlas 

A friend of mine is totally " wous" about this book. Why?

2005: The Undomestic Goddess 

Why not? The unbearable lightness of being.

2006: Dear John 

A spark of humor

2007: No One Belongs Here More Than You 

My only anthology in the list. I think I should choose a good one.

2008: Let it Snow 

Not so famous John Green, never read it.

2009: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared 

Recommended by my sister in law, who read it in the Netherlands Antillen (Antils? Nah, Antillen)

2010: Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery 

Read a book of Chogyam Trungpa once, I think I should try another.

2011: Matched 

Now why did I choose the first of a series? Now I'll have to read the other ones as well!

2012: The Snow Child 

The blurb intrigues. Almost 400 pages of frost.

2013: Captive's Desire 

Everyone with an open mind should read Natasha Knight

2014: The Forward Book of Poetry 2014 

All things start and end with poetry. And love.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

What you actually love is most truly reflected in your actions, not in what you feel, think or say

I just finished reading “The Way of Liberation”, a Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. It is written by a writer with the name  Adyashanti. Adyashanti is a Sankrit word meaning, "primordial peace". Born Steven Gray in 1962 is an American spiritual teacher and writer.
 Anyway, the way of Liberation is built on five foundations: 
- Clarify your aspiration
- Unconditional follow trough
- Never abdicate your authority
- Practice absolute sincerity
- Be a good steward of your life.
Clarify your aspiration
What do you value most, right now, in your life? What is most important to you? Don’t let anyone define it for you. Contemplate, meditate on what is the spiritual quest about for you. What do you aspire, not in the sense of moral values but clarify what you value.
The level of insight may change in time some of your values, but when your spiritual maturity deepens some aspects remain steadfast.  If you take your current values as the starting point you will be more focused on “the cutting edge of your own unfolding”.
Unconditional follow through
Follow through has to do with what you are willing to do or let go of doing.  Are you willing to be fully present, sincere and committed now and not later with absolute honesty and willingness to uncover or let go? Aspiration is not a matter of the heart, Adyashanti says, in that is a reflection of what you cherish, love and value most. You do not need to be reminded of what you truly love, only of what you do not love. And what you actually love is most truly reflected in your actions, not in what you feel, think or say.
Again: because it is a sentence that resonates into my very core: “What you actually love is most truly reflected in your actions, not in what you feel, think or say.”
Never abdicate your authority
This means you take full responsibility for your life and never forfeit it over to someone else. Not riding on the coattails of an enlightened being into enlightenment itself. A spiritual teaching is a finger pointing toward Reality, it is not Reality itself. To be in a mature and true relationship with spiritual teaching requires that you apply it, not simply believe in it.
Practice absolute sincerity
Sincerity encompasses the qualities of honesty, genuineness and integrity. To be sincere is not the same as being perfect. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage. The capacity and willingness to be honest with yourself is your greatest guard against self-deception and deceit, and aligns you with your genuine aspiration.
Be a good steward to your life
Don’t use spirituality to avoid aspects of your life, however painful, troubling, dysfunctional of frightening they are. Embrace every aspect of your life, inner and outer, pleasant or unpleasant. Not all at once, but whenever it arises in any given moment. Give each moment the attention, sincerity and commitment it deserves.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Giving birth

It is only appropriate to start first and only blogpost ever with the infinite poem of birth by Sharon Olds. Ms. Olds was born in San Francisco in the second world war on November 19th 1942. She won many awards including the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. I love the rawness of THE LANGUAGE OF THE BRAG. As a guy it is forbidden to speak about childbirth, or so it seems. We cannot understand what the woman is going through. And those who think that, are right of course. But everyone who has witnessed a childbirth knows it is the pain, strength and willpower that delivers the offspring. It is not pretty, not divine it is long and hard exhausting work.

As much as a appreciate anyone read my ramblings, to be brutally honest, I just write them for myself.  If nothing else, to get the thoughts out of my head and on to this modern parchment. Nothing special about that, every 14 year old with a diary does the same thing. I am 54 and this year in September my 5 will have a twin brother. Or sister. I hope the latter. I have been married to my loved one for over 20 years now, and our daughter has turned 20 in april this year. You do the math.

I love to read. Lawrence Clark Powell said: "write to be understood, speak to be heard and read to grow". I need to grow. And this blog is all about personal growth. You are kindly invited to watch the process from a safe distance. And shake your head in wonderment.

Alone at the center of a circle


I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the center of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safety,
stool charcoal from the iron pills,
huge breasts leaking colostrum,
legs swelling, hands swelling,
face swelling and reddening, hair
falling out, inner sex
stabbed and stabbed again with pain like a knife.
I have lain down.

I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and shit and water and
slowly alone in the center of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,
I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

Sharon Olds
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