Sunday, 3 May 2015

How To be Good

Of the many strategies I have employed in an attempt to maintain a healthy mind and keep the demons of darkness at bay, I have become much more of a reader in the past couple of years. I really do enjoy a good book. My favourite so far in recent months has been the Stig Larsen "Girl with..." series. Apparently the po0r son-of-a-bitch dies at a youngish age before ever really getting a chance to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Sad. Life sometime is not fair...Big revelation, there...Huh! That being said, I understand he was working on a 4th manuscript when he passed on to that great writer's circle in the sky and a close associate who was tuned into his vibe is planning to finish it. I', looking forward to it.

When I do find an author I like I devour there books. My latest focus has been on the works of Nick Hornby. I didn't read "About a Boy" or "Hi- Fidelity" because I saw the movies. I have this thing where if I saw the movies then I know the story, so what's the point. people do tell me I ought to read the books anyway a soften Hollywood doesn't do the author's original work justice...although about a boy was British made and is one of my favourite movies. I do know lots of people who will reread books or watch movies multiple times. I typically don't. I do make an exception for certain types of book, those with a powerful spiritual message. I have read and reread Mitch Albon's Tuesday's with Morry and Have a Little Faith because the story evokes something more powerful for me. Same thing with some of Malcolm Gladwell`s stuff and Lee Strobel's "the Case for Christ" and The Case for Faith". But that's more the exception than the rule, at least so far. But, getting back to Nick Hornby, I mentioned the books I didn't read. I did read recently "Long way Down" and "Juliette,Naked" and enjoyed them both immensely. That is why my latest foray into his work, called "How to be Good" left me unfulfilled and actually disappointed. The title suggested this would be an enriching read. For me it was not. the book meandered and, in my opinion missed the point... a point I don't think is really hard to make i.e. How to be good. I did see it through to the end, though it was a chore and that isn't good for me and defeats the purpose of what reading is to me. reading makes me feel productive without having to do a lot of work and I take a lot of refuelling from it. I only finished this one because I kept hoping, based on his other works, that's he'd eventually get around to where I though he was going to go or at least offer me some new insight I could take and ponder. Didn't happen!

That being said, like a restaurant one has enjoyed, only to have a surprisingly bad experiennce for one meal, I will  revisit some of Hornby's other work based on the overall body of his writing, which I have liked. I may even read the ones I saw the movies for. Hi-Fidelity wasn't a great movie but Springsteen had a spoken cameo part in it ,so that bumped it way up on my like list.

But, on the topic of how to be it really that hard? The character's in Hornby's story struggled and seemed to lose there way and it puzzled me as too why. I won't get into some long diatribe here on how one should live one's life but I don't think figuring out how to be good is all that hard. My perspective is obviously going to be coloured by my immersion in my Christian i.e. recovering Catholic, upbringing but I'm sure many Jews, Hindu's, Muslim's, etc as well as atheists or agnostics have a reasonable sense of what it takes. One of my favourite quotes is by the Dalai Lama who said:“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Another one of his is "“If  you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.” Then there is AesopNo act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Of course, I cannot leave out Jesus: John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you..." So there you go: how to be good is about love and kindness.Maybe it's the defining  of love and kindness that had Hornby and unfortunately millions of others kinda bewildered. If I may be so bold as to offer an interpretation, not too far from the Dalai Lama's word's live your life productively, try to make the planet a better place for your having been here. There is nothing wrong with working hard and creating a comfortable life for oneself and enjoying those comforts. Just don't forget that not everyone was born into a family or culture or country that afforded them the same opportunity, so when the opportunity presents itself, and it will (See Nepal), give a little (or a lot) it financially or with acts of kindness. It doesn't hurt and it actually does feel good. At the very least don't seek to hurt. I mean, how does that help you?

Anyway, that's what's been on my mind after reading Hornby's book. Hope I haven't come across as preachy, or worse, boring, but it is these types of activities, this blogging I mean, along with my reading, motorcycling, songwriting etc. that keep my mind out of the dark places it sometimes tends to wander that bring me down. I will add, that giving of oneself to another persone, i.e formal strong personal relationships, even marriage (or partnerships nowadays), can really help one along the way in this being good thing. I know for me, what I take from my own relationship with Sherry is greatly enriching and I am sure give sme some of the fuel I need to live that life I tried to describe above. It's easier to love and be kind, when you receive it...another reason to do it; you might start a fucking epidemic of reciprocal loving and kindness and who knows where that will lead!

Since I mentioned Sherry and the strength she gives me, and also my songwriting and the fuel I get from that, I'll leave you with a couple of more videos. See, I'm even warning you in advance so you can stop here if you want. How kind is that? One is a tune about Sherry and one is a tune about what music is for me. So, until next time,See Ya out There... Ride On!

This first video is Sycamore. I wrote it about my wife ( sorry 'bout camera position and my rather wordy intro :p )

This second tune is about the power of song and singing t help me keep my head straight, The apology I must offer again in advance of this video isn't about camera positioning but rather being somewhat verbose before actually getting to the singing. Songwriters are natural story tellers and I think I got a bit caught up in telling the story, sorry! But hey, that's what fast forward is for! Here is "Overnight Sensation"

If the video cuts off unexpectedly, click this link: