October 11, 2009

Self help me

Here's a list of the books currently on the table next to my bed:

Health Secrets of All Ages (great little book)
Going to Pieces without Falling Apart (crap)
Imaging (Norman Vincent Peale)
The Road Less Traveled (yawn)
Everything You Need to Know to Feel Good (crap)
The Warrior Mind (Kung Fu Psych)
And, the most recent purchase (stoop sale $1.00), Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth (*Oprah's book club)

My point is... I've been reading self-help/enlightenment books for years. I buy them, absorb what I can and return them to the same place I bought them, usually a thrift store. Some contain bits of great wisdom. Some, not so much. What I find confusing is they're ALL so contradictory. One book says to let the cosmos guide you. Succumb to whatever the universe has in store for you and stop struggling with life. Another says, work your ass off and everything will come to you. A recent best seller suggests you ask your dead friends and relatives for help. Supposedly, we all have guardian angels watching over us who are more than happy to enrich our lives. ALL religious books tell you that God will help with everything if you ask him. I read The Secret--visualize anything and it will come. Visualize yourself with Juliet Binoche at your side, jumping up and down with joy, accepting the giant check with your name on it. Flash bulbs going off, on the cover of the New York Post. You've just won the Mega-Ball prize of 145 million dollars. Now go and buy the tickets. Remember, visualize, visualize.

I've visualized, fantasized, imaginized, and supersized.... it ain't working.

Now I'm reading Eckhart Tolle's book. I'm about a third into it and already there are some interesting things to ponder. This goes along with my own brilliant, "minimalist Airstream plan". The book states "The unconscious compulsion to enhance one's identity through association with an object is built into the very structure of the egoic mind." When you have something and say "It's mine" it becomes part of your identity." The Rolex, the Porsche, the expensive shoes. You buy inferior quality items that are sold for much more than they're actually worth because some advertising agency has convinced you that in order to be considered hip, beautiful or cool you must have these products. They use famous, gorgeous people to make you believe that if you buy the products they endorse, you too will be equal to them. Nicole Kidman wears this watch, therefore, if you buy one just like it, you'll be like her. Christy Turlington wears a certain designer's clothes and you'll look just like her if you buy this dress. This is what keeps a consumer society like ours going. It goes on to say that trying to find yourself through things or products is like a cancer that steadily grows. "The unchecked striving for more, for endless growth, is a dysfunction and a disease. It is the same dysfunction the cancerous cell manifests, whose only goal is to multiply itself, unaware that it is bringing about it's own destruction by destroying the organism of which it's part. A large part of many people's lives is consumed by the obsessive preoccupation with things. When you can no longer feel the life that you are, you are likely to try to fill up your life with things." In a nutshell, the book implies that if you have the desire to own lots of expensive, flashy things you're obviously trying to fulfill something that's missing in your life (while trying desperately to impress your peers). Basically, you're unhappy. Like a child, give them a toy, they're happy for awhile and then they push it aside and need a new toy. It's the "egoic mind" telling you to you buy buy buy. The guy with the boring, unstimulating job keeps buying more things to justify his unfulfilled life. He probably could have found true happiness if he had quit his stupid job, left his nagging wife, sold all that expensive crap he bought and simply pursued something that he truly loved. Sadly, he's been looking in the wrong place the whole time.
I'll read on. This guy's on to something.

On the bus.
He had a grown man's face and a little kid's body

This is a block from my apartment. Who names these streets?

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