I have learned so much from the books that I have read during this adventure. I try to put these into practice whenever I can, and remind myself of them often. So I thought that I would share some of them with you.
‘You’re Not Doing The Driving’ – M Scott Peck ‘The Road Less Travelled.’
This quote comes from the book that changed my life. I actually started to read it when I had began to re-find myself after The War all those years ago, in about 2009. It took me four years to read, so technically it just falls into the ten year category when I turned fifty.
The book took me so long to read because I would read just a couple of paragraphs and find myself thinking about what was said and how it applied to me, situations in my life, people in my life, how I behaved and so much more. It opened the path for me to read all the other books that I now read. It enabled me to evolve.
I picked this quote because it made me realise that no matter what we do, no matter how much we put into place to control our lives we are not in control. Life, God, the Cosmos, the Universe whatever you want to call it, is doing the driving; and quite often it will remind you of that when everything you put into place just crumbles.
Our adventure in France really drove this home. Life led us to France to teach us lessons. Hard lessons. But it also enabled us to look at the world in a completely new way.
‘Let Go Of The Rice’ Mark Nepo From ‘The Book Of Awakenings.’
Now this is an interesting one. I decided to share what had happened to us and write a book sharing my journal from a particularly painful time in our lives.
It was the lovely Ellen who follows this blog that suggested that I blog some of my book and ‘Making this better’ the blog, and book was born. It led me to interact with lots of people from all over the world who found themselves in the same place that I had found myself all those years ago. And there is another piece of evidence that ‘Life’ shows you the way. As a result of interacting with those people I was introduced to many other writers and books and one of them was ‘The Book Of Awakenings.’
There are so many parts of ‘The Book of Awakenings’ that have brought me to tears, and helped me, but the story of ‘Letting go of the Rice’ was one that sits with me. In this particular entry Mark Nepo tells the story of the monkeys in Asia who are caught by using a simple trap of a coconut with a hole in one end, the coconut is filled with rice. The monkey puts his hand in flat and it fits easily into the hole but once the monkey has a fist full of rice his hand will not fit back through the hole. Many monkeys will not let go of the rice, and as a result they are killed and eaten. The monkeys who do let go of the rice, knowing that what they need will come, survive and go on to live their lives. It is a simple story of belief. Belief in yourself, belief that what you need will come. A story of not holding on so tightly to things because they stop you living your life. How many times do we all see people do it, or even do it ourselves? We stay in marriages that are desperately unhappy because we are too afraid to let go. We stay in jobs that we hate because we need to pay our mortgages on big houses that we love, never believing we could love another. Until we end up hating said houses because they have stopped us living our life.
Letting go has been a huge part of what I have learned over these past ten years, from material things to people. But for me this story resonated. We had to believe so often in France that what we needed would come. No amount of worry was going to change the outcome, because let us not forget, whether I liked it or not, someone else was doing the driving. It may take some time, but our adventure in France proved to us that what we thought we needed was not as essential as we thought, and what we needed did come.
But more than that I realised how many of us decide to do something, and then hold on tight to that decision even when life is slapping you round the head with a wet kipper pretty much telling you that it is time to change direction. People think that they have to stick with things for so many reasons: mortgages, children, fear of not getting another job, losing what they have and on and on and on…No matter what we have to make it work no matter how many times ‘Life’ points us in another direction. When we first started this adventure RD and I had sold our house in the UK, the only thing we had left was Montaigu. We felt that we had burned our bridges and that meant there was no way out. And yet here I am: living in Ireland.
I now understand that we had to let go of our fear that we had failed, let go of our fear of moving again. Let go of our fear that we would never find another home. When we finally made the decision I remember RD saying to me that we had failed. I disagreed and pointed out to him that learning all that we had learned was not a failure, worrying what other people thought meant you were letting other people live your life for you. How often these people were the very people that I have spoken about here – too afraid of change, to make change, and because of that they just want everyone else to stay the same so that it made them feel better.
Ever since I have read that chapter I find myself saying ‘just let go, let go of the rice, what you need will come.’ And it always has.
Is That True? LovIng What Is Byron Katie
A book based solely around this question, a question to make you realise that the ‘Spin Doctor’, which is the left hand side of the brain, really likes to tell you a yarn sometimes. Years ago I called this voice in the head a demon, it helped me to create a visual, and to stop listening to what it had to say. But reading this book I came to understand that it is recognised that the left hand side of our brain makes up stories, you know, you think someone is being off with you and want to talk to them about it, and before you know it you have made up a whole conversation in your head in how it is all going to go. You have become angry at what they have said, didn’t say, and before you know it the whole situation has escalated, when in fact the conversation never even took place!
So now, when I find myself doing this, and trust me I still do! I stop and normally giggle as I say ‘is that true.’ The answer is normally ‘No’.
What Are You Looking To Achieve? ‘The Tao Te Ching.’
The great Tao. When I read the first verse I remember thinking ‘What the hell does that mean?’ But I persevered and now it is a philosophy that I pretty much try and apply to my life. This is not a particular quote from a book, but a question that I apply to so many aspects of my life now, ever since reading and understanding that our biggest nemesis is our own ego.
I have a tad of an Irish temper when riled, but I learned that when I am riled it is nearly always my ego that has riled me. So now before I take any action I ask myself this honest question and have to give myself an honest answer. Sometimes I still take the action, like my previous post. But when I do, and normally I take the decision not to take the action I was going to take, this question makes me think it through.
I find it quite thought provoking when you ask others this question, it normally stops them in their tracks, because if they answered honestly they would have to say ‘I want to get one over this person.’ Or ‘I want to make my point.’ Do they? Or does their ego? So when I ask myself this question it is often followed by ‘This is it my ego making me react?’
All of these sayings, and there are many more, are all linked to the ego. The voice in our head telling us there is something going on behind your back is your ego. The urge to control our lives totally, getting frustrated when things don’t go our way, is our ego. The refusal to accept that ‘someone else is doing the driving.’ Is our ego. The fear of not letting go, is our ego, it is the voice in our head telling us that we will not get anything better, that people will talk about us, have an opinion of us, judge us. Normally based on the fact that we are more often than not judging others, and thereby think they are judging us.
‘We Are All Just People Walking Down The Street.’ ‘The Grief Club.’ Melodie Beattie
I have written about this book before. It is a book that called to me, literally. The book is about understanding that we grieve so many changes in our lives. In one particular chapter she writes about when adult children fly the nest. She quotes Khalil Gibran who said that we do not own our children. We should not try to live their lives for them. Melodie Beattie takes this a step further – in the same respect our children do not own us, and they should not try and live our lives for us. That ‘we are all just people walking down the street.’
I understood this, and totally related to it. In fact to go one step further the Tao tells us that mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother are all labels that we use to describe something. But somehow those ‘labels’ have been burdened with expectations of all those that hold them. And when those expectations are not met those people are judged. When in fact we are all just people, what right does any other have to ‘expect’ of them?
If those people want to be there they will be, and if they don’t, they won’t. It doesn’t matter what you call them this will not change.
I chose these particular quotes because they are the ones I use most often. And at times they have given me comfort from a churning mind, and freedom at others. They have also made me stop and look at myself, and be honest with myself when it comes to others. They help me to remind myself that I am not doing the driving, and worrying or stressing is not going to change that.
What a wonderful blog 😘
Thanks Mary, lovely thing to say. ❤️