There is a quote that I love by Joan Didion: “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” I love it because this quote seems to sum up how I feel about the woman I am becoming. I am still changing, and I pray it will forever be so. Life is about change. We take in new experiences, new information and after processing it and forming our opinion we transform into new beings. When we don’t change, we run the risk of taking our outdated ideas into environments where they simply serve no good purpose.
An example of this from my own life centers around my love of reading. For years I had a firm rule: I could check out as many books as I wanted or buy as many as I wanted (or could afford!) so long as I finished the book. More specifically, even if I didn’t like a particular book, once I started reading it, I had to finish it before I could start reading another one. I faithfully followed this rule for many years. One of my yoga teachers once recommended a book on yoga to help me understand the health benefits. The book was titled “The Anatomy of Yoga.” I bought the book and really didn’t like it. It had a lot of detailed diagrams of the body and information on all the various body parts. (Yes, the word “anatomy” in the title should have given me a clue but my teacher made it sound like an enjoyable read.)
From the very first page I knew I was in over my head. I might have liked it if it had been less technical. Or if they had simplified the message more, something like the kid nursery song “Dem Bones.” I can understand “the ankle bone connected to the leg bone; the leg bone connected to the knee bone.” However, “The Anatomy of Yoga” referenced body parts I didn’t even know I had! Trying to finish was like being back in biology class and I didn’t have the benefit of a tutor. It was hard and I hated it. Yet, due to my rule I persevered and finished it. In the end, I did understand a little more about the benefits of yoga, but I was miserable and getting through it took a lot of time. Also, when I finished, I didn’t feel happy or relaxed like I usually do when I finish a book, instead I felt disgruntled.
Alternatively, there have been times when I hated a book in the beginning, and it turned out to be an excellent read. One such instance occurred when I purchased one of my all-time favorites: “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, MD. In the book Dr. Doidge shares how, the brain really is more incredible than we ever imagine and that whatever it tells the body to do, the body responds. Well, that was the basic concept but of course Dr. Doidge elaborates and makes it all very easy to understand, I have read this book over and over and never tire of it.
In recent years, due to my various schedule demands, I deviated from my original rule and gave myself permission to stop reading any book that I didn’t particularly enjoy after reading one or two pages. With this new permission, I release all guilt associated with my decision and simply stop reading and go to the next book in my reading que. You know what? I like my new rule much better than my old stupid, nonsensical rule!
Now that I can stop reading a book anytime I want, I now wonder, why did I even make that rule? And why did I strictly adhere to it for so many years even when I was miserable? Was I trying to instill discipline in myself or was I trying to make sure that I carefully selected which books I would read, as if there was some prize associated with my staying the course? To this day I am not sure what I was thinking but I am so glad that Lou is gone. She was a monumental pain in the butt!