A few weeks ago I was in the middle of a children’s craft program. We were making mini collages on magnets and I was thumbing through a stack of old magazines to find stuff for my collage. I happened on the book review page for People Magazine from last year and a book cover caught my eye and I thought I would cut it out for my collage. Something also told me to read the review and I did. I immediately knew I needed to read this book. That very moment I searched our library’s catalog for it and downloaded the audio version of the book. It was serendipity.*
This is the story of Nao, a 16 year old living in Toyko, and Ruth, a middle-aged writer living in British Columbia. Their stories are separated by the Pacific Ocean and time.
Ruth finds Nao’s journal when it washes up on the beach near her home. She begins reading it and is quickly drawn into her life as she tells the story of her Great Grandmother (who is a Buddhist Nun), her father (a failed dot com bussinessman), and her great-uncle (a Kamikaze pilot who died in WWII). Nao also tells her story, which is sad but also, sometimes, full of hope as she finds her “superpowa” through zazen meditation. Ruth and Nao are drawn together, despite the limitations of time and space. They develop a relationship and grow to care for one another. Nao is writing the journal to someone, she doesn’t know who it is, but in her writing of it she finds solace. Ruth wonders what happened to Nao, she grows to care about her well being.
I can’t begin to express how much I loved this book. I love how it came into my life – being a zen Buddhist myself. Reading it has made me think a lot about my own practice. I loved the storytelling. I love the study of space and time and the relationships that develop despite this apparent divide. This book gave me lots of food for thought. I’m sure I will be thinking about it for a long time.
*Another bit of serendipity noted: as I was searching for the cover art on Amazon I saw that the book was released on March 11th 2013 (my birthday!)
About a month ago I stumbled upon an article about “Highly Sensitive People.” The article resonated with me , hard. My entire life I have been told that I am “too sensitive.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. So I have grown up my entire life thinking that something was wrong with me and I have spent a lot of my life trying to fix this “too sensitive” thing to absolutely no avail. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to stumble on this article and see that being “highly sensitive” is actually a personality trait .
I picked up the book and read it and can recommend it. Some things I learned about myself (most of this stuff I already knew but the book confirmed that this is part of the HSP personality type):
- It is OK to be “too sensitive.” In fact it isn’t good or bad. It just is. Those of us who are very sensitive are the poets, artists, spiritual ones, etc. We are highly intuitive and tend to be very creative.
- I notice everything. This is something that the book confirmed about myself (among many other things). I pick up on everything around me. It is both good and bad. The problem I have with this -and that I am working on, is attaching stories to all of the things I pick up on. I am learning to let go of the story line and just let things unfold without my brain giving its input. For example, I might sense something is wrong – like someone around me is giving off a nervous energy. My initial reaction to this weird nervous energy might be to assume this has to do with me in some way (they don’t like me, they are annoyed with me, etc). I am learning to put space between the feeling and the thought.
- Sometimes weird things happen to me. This is actually common for Highly Sensitive People – to experience weird things.
- I am sensitive to the energy of places. Here is an interesting story regarding that.
- As I mentioned above, I am sensitive to the energy of people. When I am sitting on the Reference Desk at the library I can literally feel the bad mood of a person, or even a family, while they are in the area. Sometimes it is just a chaotic energy that I feel. Sometimes it is a very calming energy. Sometimes, if it is a draining, chaotic kind of energy, I am completely exhausted by the end of the day. I need to have some time to myself to recharge.
- I feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS. Again, this can be really, really great, and really, really awful. There is rarely an in- between state. I cherish those rare occasions when I feel that state in-between THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME and this. fucking. sucks. Though those THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME feelings are pretty fucking awesome.
I highly recommend this book if you are sensitive as well, or if any of this resonates with you. The website is really good too. It helped me to see that I am not a weirdo, that this is normal and there are lots of people like me out there.
One of the laws of the universe is that all library holds come at the same time. This is what arrived for me today at my own library. I am also working slowly through four books. I am also feeling a need to do some creative writing and just general de-cluttering of the brain.
When I was writing the “Choose Love” post I took the opportunity to read though some of the post that I wrote when I was doing my media fast last year. It’s kind of interesting to revisit that experiment. It was great experience and I want to do it again. So I am. Starting tomorrow.
I’ll see you in a week!
Allow me, for a moment, to put on my Librarian hat. I want to tell you about an incredible resource I learned about today. It is for teens, but adults (and parents of teens) might be interested, as well!
It is called SYNC and they offer two YA audio books each week for free download. The books are only available for a week at a time. However, once downloaded they are yours to keep.
I downloaded this week’s books very easily on my iPhone this morning. I navigated to http://www.audiobooksync.com/ on my iPhone’s browser and was able to download the books into my Overdrive Media app (you have to have Overdrive installed on your computer or smart phone to listen).
This week’s books are Of Poseidon by Anna Banks and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
The pair of books each week compliment each other. One is a popular YA title, the other is a classic.
I don’t know if this is available to people outside of the U.S. (trying to find out at the moment.)
I was really excited to find out about this! I hope you are too. Enjoy!