I’m a heart-centered, lifelong learner, reader, and promoter of books. That’s right, and I have been reading since early childhood. It was my mother’s hobby, and I picked it up from her. I could read just about anywhere – on the floor, in bed, or up a tree. My favorite authors were Nancy Drew (mystery), Jack London (adventure), Walter Farley (horses), and Johann Wyss (treehouses).
My Time With Books As A Teen
As a teen, I spent summers in a lounge chair on my deck in the sun with a book and an ice tea (instant tea was big then, and we had a new refrigerator with an ice maker). The thicker the book, the better! I read J.R.R. Tolkein (Lord of the Rings), James Michener (archeology and history), Taylor Caldwell (because my mom did), Frank Herbert (Science Fiction), and Carlos Castaneda (my first foray into the mystical).
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
By this time, I was wearing glasses. I was not too fond of the look, but I loved that reading became more enjoyable. Now I was out of high school, working, and contemplating college. In the middle of the ’70s, it wasn’t hard to find interesting, mind-expanding reading material. I was reading Seth Speaks (channeling), Creative Visualization, Jonathan Livingston Seagull (introspection), A Gift from the Sea (reflecting on life), and Siddharta (self-discovery). Many of these books sustained me through some difficult times and eventually led me to learn to meditate. I started with Transcendental Meditation.
How Books Supported Me As An Adult
When I entered the world of work, I was on my own. It was exciting to be an “adult,” but at times stressful making ends meet. Reading was my go-to for relaxation. The library was always a place to find a new adventure, a friend, or a solution to a problem.
A few years after getting married, I started working at a bookstore – Waldenbooks! It was a great environment to go to five days a week. Not only did I expand my reading palate, but I met the most interesting people and learned what books were their touchstones. For 18 years, I was immersed in the bookstore environment and loved every minute of it.
How Books Open Our Hearts and Minds
Reading, for me, has always represented a tool to the raw materials of knowledge. Whether the material is fiction or nonfiction, you can pick up kernels of life’s truth through a book. For instance, I recently read a fiction story that revealed something about what my mother’s life must have been like raising four children and working while my Dad traveled two weeks out of every month. It was an aha moment and gave me a different perspective on my mother’s experience. The words on the page and the stories I’ve read have brought me to tears, had me laughing out loud, and provided serious food for thought.
Reading gives us the ability to be entertained, informed, educated, and inspired. Technology in this area has exploded over my lifetime. I’m a slow adopter, and it took me some years to embrace ebooks and reading on a device. However, my preference is still to hold a book. Along the way, I’ve learned to appreciate audiobooks, first as cassette tapes, then CD’s and now in MP3 or streaming.
You may be wondering how do reading and books fit in with living a heart-centered life. Good question! To me, what we read as children and young adults whets our appetites for the paths we pursue. We come across books that change and open our minds. We meet people in the authors and characters that enlighten us, bring us knowledge, and make us think.
“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic.”
How Books Show Up At The Right Time
At Hearts Rise Up, we talk about living a good life in mind, body, and heart. Out there are a plethora of books on topics that fit into all these areas. Some examples are; books covering cooking, exercise, mindfulness, forgiveness, self-esteem, relationships, philosophy, communication, nature, and spirituality, to name just a few. In my search for higher consciousness and self-improvement, I’m often led to the right book at the right time by unseen hands.
Here are a few examples:
I’ve had a book in my collection for 25 years. Every time I picked it up, I didn’t resonate with it and put it down. This year, as I have struggled with some food sensitivities, my eyes were drawn to it repeatedly. Finally, I picked it up and have found that it is the perfect book for me at this time. (Donna Gates – The Body Ecology Diet)
The second example is from the classics. I know a little of Roman history and Marcus Aurielas, but not his words. My banker and my best friend are into Marcus Aurielas’ book Meditations and also Stoicism. Here are three of my favorite quotes from his book.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
To conclude and come full circle, I’m still reading, learning from, and enjoying books. I left the retail bookstore world and entered the public library. Surrounded by books and the people who want to soak up what’s in them is a little like heaven on earth to me. I’d love to hear how books have influenced, inspired, and aided your life journey. Share some titles – I’m looking for more to read!!!