Cherished Scribbles

books_quote_astrobrightSo I have been asked many times (particularly since posting some snaps of my bookshelves) what my favorite book is, and as all of you book lovers know, any attempt to pick only one favorite book feels comparable to picking one limb or one finger to keep, in other words in attempting to do this I am always left feeling a great sense of loss for all those books left out that are such a vital part of me. So I’ve decided instead to share a list of some of my favorites (though I know as soon as I post this I will think of 10 that I missed…and then I will finish 10 more that I desperately wish I had read before completing this accounting). My hope though is that some of you will feel a bit more connected when they know that we have shared some of the same favorite journeys, and that some will be inspired to go a on an adventure into new realms which open new magical doorways for them.

Favorite Books:
LES MISERABLES- Victor Hugo
THE SIMERILION-JRR Tolkin
THE LITTLE PRINCE – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
ALICE IN WONDERLAND &
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS- Lewis Caroll
THE MISTS OF AVALON- Marion Zimmer Bradley
HARRY POTTER (1-6)- J.K. Rowling
HIS DARK MATERIALS (1-3)- Phillip Pullman
SHERLOCK HOLMES- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA- Arthur Golden
THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG- Muriel Barberry
CONTACT- Carl Sagan
ROOTS- Alex Haley
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND- Robert Heinlein
THE ALCHEMIST- Paulo Coelho
THE LONG DARK TEA TIME OF THE SOUL- Douglas Adams
CATCH 22- Joseph Heller
THE SONG OF THE LARK- Willa Cather
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE- Jane Austin
ATLAS SHRUGGED- Ayn Rand
THE REPUBLIC- Plato
SYMPOSIUM – Plato
PARADISE LOST- John Milton
DEVINE COMEDY- Dante
FAUST- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
THE BHAGAVAD GITA
YOGA SUTRAS-Patanjali
VASTHISTAS YOGA-Venkatesananda
A MOVEABLE FEAST- Ernest Hemingway
THE BLUE SWEATER- Jacqueline Novogratz
THE HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE- Charles Van Dorren
A STUDY OF HISTORY- Arnold Joseph Toynbee
A PEOPLES HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES- Howard Zinn
THE LIVES OF MARGARET FULLER- John Mattesson
BIRD BY BIRD- Anne Lamott
REASON FOR HOPE- Jane Goodall
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME- Stephan Hawking
UNDERSTANDING COMICS- Scott McCloud
MIDDLEMARCH- George Elliot
THE STORY OF THE STONE- Cao Xueqin
AND EVERYTHING William Shakespeare EVER WROTE
PS- favorite poetry books would be a long additional list

Also probably to my own great embarrassment (oh well shame is for the weak 😉 ) I am including an essay, I wrote for an assignment some time ago, which goes into detail as to my personal feelings about one of the books I’ve listed. So if you truly have nothing you’d rather do, I suggest reading one of the books on the above list or feel free to scan through the following. Again hoping perhaps it touches one of those chords of familiarity with someone and they (or you) feel a bit more understood a bit less alone in this whole life journey thing we are on.

With love always,

Rachel

Essay:

In truth my life has been forever altered by countless thousands of artistic works, of significant events, by so many words put to paper by so many great minds, and their demarkations aren’t so definitive, these changes happen one flowing into the next, they overlap, their edges bleed. To separate out one appeared to compromise the nature of the change described. This act seemed akin to attempting to isolate the lone drop of water most responsible for turning the tide. Upon first reflection, I worried that to single out but one work or event would be an arbitrary whim, or worse still a calculated act, contrived for effect

I realized then that there is an answer revealed by my reaction to the question itself, a book which helped to cultivate in me this view of the nuanced, multifaceted nature of existence—the novel Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. I read this work in 1997, and though I had read many brilliant, thought provoking novels earlier in my life, Les Miserables was the first which so elegantly provided an example of how to weave multiple views together into one coherent communication. This symphony composed of many movements and singular melodies, was in such sympathy with my nature that I do not think I have been satisfied with a solely singular point of view ever since. Henceforth, truth to me would always lie in the plurality which composes any unity.

Les Miserables, has an exquisitely rich expansive scope. Spanning a significant stretch of time and great distances of space and circumstance. Addressing issues of class and revolution. Displaying changes in perspective, on both a personal and societal level. Examining questions of politics, ethics, economics, justice, love, war, ideas, and ideals. All this shown from many viewpoints woven together in a singular connected flowing line of experience, with a common tonal center. Illuminating how we humans commingle, alter and change each other’s lives irreversibly through our interactions—large and small, intentional and unintentional. Illustrating how inextricably connected we are, how impossible it is for survival or happiness to exist for the one apart from the whole, that only in knowing there is a communal purpose and reason for our lives can we truly be happy as individuals.

Hugo focuses our attention on those aspects of existence that we don’t always see, the lives we are a part of yet know nothing about, the ripples we blindly create, those stories that, too often, have no one to tell them. He even takes this examination to the extreme of penetrating the sewers of Paris— the truly discarded aspects of our world which we attempt to ignore— and through this, again, he finds the ways in which we connect, on both a literal and figurative level. By covering a substantial period of time in multiple lives, he shows that an outcome which appears one way at a given point on the journey may end with a very different result, once again, giving us a perspective on life which we sometimes fail to see.

To what degree reading Les Miserables altered or created in me a new way of seeing, and to what degree it validated an already extant view, I do not know, but because of my experience reading this novel I feel confident that I will never again think that I can truly comprehend something without viewing it holistically, from all angles, acknowledging all its dimensions and its potential repercussions across time. This novel has solidified my view of life as an equation, a formula so precise that even the slightest shift changes the whole organism completely, wherein a single breath, a single smile alters the course of history.

 

 

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Turn on The Light

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” –J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter

I know there are many who are confused by all the people waking up and fighting these days, “where was all this outrage when injustice was taking place before?”. Yes, you are right we should have been speaking up and fighting back before, we shouldn’t have let things fall this far, but also please see that before the Malfoys were running things (yes they are Death Eaters and all that, but you could kind of reason with them), and now the Dark Lord is back so there really is no more turning a blind eye, we must fight. x

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Part 2-Important to Me

Feeling grateful to know so many wonderful people who are involved in worthy causes, non-profits etc, but never been good at asking for help or advice. So 1) know that I am always looking to help & do some good so don’t hesitate to reach out to me 2) I would love to connect with others who are interested in creating a major platform to transfer the money we are donating in the form of our purchases from bad actors to ethical ones – i.e website, apps, advertising dedicated to making ethical shopping choices easily accessible and more affordable for all. This is likely to be a long term project and there will be many times that I am reaching out to people to get involved, but right now I am just doing investigation and reaching out to people who have or know someone with real expertise in the the logistic of setting up of a non-profit from a legal/organizational standpoint and in website design. Feel free to comment, message (or email/call me if you have that info).
Much love always,
Rachel

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Quick Question for you-Important to Me

I wish to (in fact I need to for my own wellbeing) do much much more to help this world. What I always come back to is that real change won’t happen till we each take responsibility for our part by stopping our daily funding of companies who are harming the earth and our fellow human beings. I work hard to research all the companies I purchase from and have found so many beautiful ones that are doing so much good. My important question for you is what is in the way of more of us doing this? I really really want to help to make it easier for everyone to buy from ethical companies. What are the biggest barriers for you? Time? Money? Lack of information? I am hoping to hear from as many of you as possible, and so much appreciate any responses. With love always

xx  Rachel

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What Is A Gift?

So I am called sick, and disabled, and for many I might be considered one of the unlucky.

’Tis true of late I find it difficult to do most of the physical things we often take for granted.
Yet, I also consider myself to be one of the very lucky few. I am fed, sheltered, and cared for. In my lifetime I have not seen my home, my family, my loved ones ravaged by war. And most crucially, I still have the ability to love others, and to receive love. Yes, I may be confined to a body which often limits, but am not trapped in the much darker illusion that I am alone in this world.

What others might not see, is that my situation has also given me the most tremendous gifts. Daily I have been given the wonderful opportunity to contemplate, to evaluate what is truly of importance to me. Some might see that I was torn away from the life I had known, but on the very bright side I was torn away from the life I had known.

In other words all the indoctrination, the taking for granted that life is arranged as it is because “that is just how life is”, “it is just how reality works” became exposed as untruth when I was given the beautiful opportunity to extract, when I was given some perspective. I think of it like a detoxification- while on a drug life seems one way, but when it is purged from your system you can see things anew.

All self-important philosophizing aside (one of my remaining addictions). My great wish is to share the freedoms afforded me. To pass along this gift- the knowledge that the world does not simply run by a fixed set of rules dictated to us by others, but instead is made anew each day by our own actions, and by the decisions we make each moment.
So let’s make them very good ones, let’s shape this world beautifully, because it is and can be a magnificent place, because life can truly be wonderful for all.

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My Plea

Our culture is one which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self.
-Thomas Merton

I am less afraid of Donald Trump or even of the bullies, bigots and climate change deniers then I am of us, of this. What I deeply, deeply fear is that we will slide comfortably back into the status quo as the world slides downward to the point of no return.
I fear television, video games, sports and bar room babble. I fear daily dalliances and petty squabbles. I fear anything and everything that numbs and distracts us from confronting all we need to.
So this I vow, I will not let myself fall back to sleep. I will not go about my existence pretending all is right with the world when so clearly it is not. I do not yet know what I will devote my minutes to, but I promise to spend them wisely and devote what is left of this life to furthering the worthy efforts others have made and are making, to serving in any way that I can.
Since I am always trying to better learn how I can do these things, and since I would like to help others do the same, one of the next projects I will be working on is called:
A practical guide to dreaming but staying awake
(empowering ourselves as citizens)
So to be continued. I will update you on how all of this is going.
With infinite love,
Rachel

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Shame

Why have I spent a lifetime being deeply, at times debilitatingly, ashamed of the most trivial and ridiculous things? Of pimples, of peeing (yes peeing…and of course every other bodily function), of eating (yes of eating too), of being fat, of not having big enough boobs, of talking at the wrong time, or saying the wrong words, of innocent mistakes (in words, in spelling, in grammar and etiquette).

Why have I spent a lifetime being afraid of my flawed body, of my imperfections, of my perceived faults in personality or behavior?

Yes, there are things I have done, and will do, for which I should feel shame. Knowingly harmful acts— like the countless times I have chosen personal convenience over the good of others. Perfect example, the times I have purchased products without doing the necessary research as to their supply chain, simply because I didn’t want to be bothered at that moment— bothered, as in taking 5 minutes to look something up, perhaps purchase a pricier product, though I was obviously fine with the “bother” which took years off a child’s life while they slaved in making this item (an item I will likely disregard when it no longer serves me).

Actually as I write these words I do begin to see things as they are, to see the unflattering truth behind these insane errors in my calculus. Despite all that I have done to prove otherwise to myself, I still quite desperately desire the approval, the love, of others. So ingrained in my calculations is this need for approval that it colors the way I judge myself in every way. If something might jeopardize said approval I perceive it as bad, shameful, something to be avoided (even if it is in fact an act that would do profound good). And should others excuse and accept me despite doing something horribly harmful (as in the supply chain scenario), well then I don’t pay that transgression too much mind.

So how have I continued to let this ruling principle of approval hold dominion for so long? I excuse it, I rationalize it. Oh boy have I rationalized it, with countless “intelligent” reasons… “I can do more good and help more people if they accept me”, “I can function better in life with someone to love me” etc., etc.

Well I call bull sh*t on myself and anyone else who buys in to this skewed logic, because what actually does some real good, what creates profound change is when we stand up for our ideals, when we reveal our truest selves, when we by our own actions make others less afraid to demonstrate their true humanity too, to see the world through honest eyes. And, as for love, we can never feel truly loved unless we are being our complete and pure self, a self which we can be proud of because it is in agreement with our most noble desires.

So no longer will I let these ridiculous shames stop me from focusing on what I really wish to be, I will merely be this self who is trying to do as much good in the world as she can, and who doesn’t always (or perhaps often) look, sound or behave beautifully, eloquently or acceptably in the process. My hope is that in being my glaringly imperfect self I will help free others to be their truest selves as well.

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