Upcoming Reading

I’ve placed an order for a few new books that have been in my ‘to read’ queue for a long time, as well as a new addition. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately via my phone/laptop of ebooks, but I’m missing the physical sensation and satisfaction of a physical book.

I had gone to ebooks as an effort to ‘declutter’ as I didn’t want to keep having books around – I went through a process of purging a bunch some months back, so buying more physical books leaves me sort of conflicted.  We’ll see how it goes. Depending on my attachment to them I think I will either keep them or possibly donate them to the library. For the most part these that I’ve ordered aren’t available in my local library system. Continue reading “Upcoming Reading”

Dharma Punx by Noah Levine

51ipdj0uo1l-_sl300_Recently checked out the audiobook version of Dharma Punx by Noah Levine. I found it to be very inspiring and a fascinating story of one man’s discovery of himself and the larger world. From the book page:

As with many self-destructive kids, Noah Levine’s search for meaning led him first to punk rock, drugs, drinking, and dissatisfaction. But the search didn’t end there. Having clearly seen the uselessness of drugs and violence, Noah looked for positive ways to channel his rebellion against what he saw as the lies of society. Fueled by his anger at so much injustice and suffering, Levine now uses that energy and the practice of Buddhism to awaken his natural wisdom and compassion.

While Levine has come to embrace the same spiritual tradition as his father, best-selling author Stephen Levine, he finds his most authentic expression in connecting the seemingly opposed worlds of punk and Buddhism. As Noah Levine delved deeper into Buddhism, he chose not to reject the punk scene, instead integrating the two worlds as a catalyst for transformation. Ultimately this is an inspiring story about maturing and how a hostile and lost generation is finally finding its footing. This provocative report takes us deep inside the punk scene and moves from anger, rebellion, and self-destruction to health, service to others, and genuine spiritual growth.

Equally as satisfying is the fact that the audiobook is read by the author, and at times I found was, itself, meditative to listen to.

Fits and Starts.

Here is this year’s blog reboot.

I have stopped and started this thing more times than I can count, so I’ve stopped trying. It would seem, at some point, what I am destined to do, so I will roll with it. I have a bit of a new format this time, a renewed habit of writing offline, and a few posts in the vault so we’ll see what that gets us. As someone of the age who has seen the birth and development of ‘blogs’ it never ceases to amaze me the breadth they now encompass and people’s compulsion to keep feeding them, including mine. It seems quite silly, really. If everyone had placed messages in bottles and tossed them in the sea, we’d have a sea of bottles. Essentially the same game. Well, I guess now you can search for a specific bottle, but whatevs.

I had initially deliberated about starting separate blogs for the different topics I tend to write about but eventually nixed that as too hard. I still felt that tons of categories was kind of a drag and overbearing so I’ve winnowed it down to 3 categories that sort of encompass what I write about for the most part.

Headspace and meatspace.

I continue to try to enrich my mental experience on the planet while also trying to optimize the condition of the meatsuit that carries me around it. I had been pretty successful in losing some weight last year, have gained some back, and sort of plateaued. Changing things up some now, specifically with regards to what and how I’m eating to try and shake things up a bit. Exercise has never been an issue aside of time to do it, and I’m finding more of that now, in addition to making it more of a priority. All of this is greatly improving the ambience in my head – combined with an increase of reading and introspection and decrease in visits to the Internet.

Contradiction.

Fitting that I’d be writing about leaving the Internet alone on a blog. Weird that it’s like a ‘thing’. “HEY. STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR INTERNET.” Since it’s inception I’ve been fascinated by it and even more so with social media. I’m sure it’s been unhealthy at points. But I found, sometime around the time I took this blog offline, that it wasn’t really all that fulfilling anymore. Checking in on various sites and SM platforms was only making me angry, frustrated, or leaving me with a feeling of hopelessness, or WTF? So I checked out for a bit. Stopped following all those people who annoyed me but I’d felt obligated to for some reason. Life’s too short for that.

I stopped commenting, for the most part, because in most cases it’s the cyber equivalent of banging your head against the wall. People come online and post stuff they’re passionate about partly to validate it for themselves. You’re not going to change anyone’s mind with a comment on their post. You’re just not.

I’ve been trying to be much more discriminating about what I post. There’s a bunch of different acronyms out there I think, floating in the inter-ether about things you should ask yourself before posting something on the internet. I’ve basically narrowed it down to is it informative or uplifting. I try to steer clear of pretty much everything else. I don’t know how well I’m succeeding, but I’m trying.

Things I’ve Been Reading

As I said I’ve been trying to read more, and to read more actual books, vs reading ebooks on my phone. I initially thought that was great because I could read books anywhere, but I found though I was reading more, I was actually absorbing less due to distractions of the environments around me or the compulsion to click away and answer a text or email etc. I’ve gone back to – gasp – checking books out from the Library. I’ve found that the ability to take a book somewhere and leave my phone entirely somewhere else has been hugely liberating.

One book I read recently that addresses that very thing was The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. A great read. Ironically I read it on my phone, when I was still doing a lot of that. Interesting discussion around theories and studies that support that current generations of peoples’ brains are actually being physiologically changed by the way they read and consume material. This book is kind of old too, so I’m sure there’s a lot more out there about it now. On a sort of related note, there’s a new book out I’m anxious to read, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff. I want to read it real bad, but am trying not to cave and get the ebook version. Kicker is that I’m not sure I want to spend the beans for a physical copy and of course it’s not at the library yet.

Other books I’ve read recently and enjoyed greatly include Robert Pirsig’s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, An Inquiry into Values and Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. Both of these were fantastic and made a huge impression on me. The kicker for me is whenever I come across I look forward to re-reading, then I know I’m on the right track. Both of these fall in that category.

I also recently finished Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air – a book I’ve heard about for years, but just finally got around to. I’d read Into the Wild a few months back as a precursor, so I was looking forward to this one. Both of these books I read in a matter of 2-3 days’ binge reading – I don’t know if that’s a testament to my enjoyment and immersion in them or Krakauer’s writing style. I do find I like the way he writes and Into Thin Air lived up to every bit of its hype.

Some months back, Ryan Correy posted a video of Dan Harris talking about his experience with meditation, something I was curious about. Dan’s talk resonated with me and I’ve been meditating fairly regularly since. In the video he mentions a book by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now. I was interested in reading some of his work, as I’d been hearing his name various places for a while as an author to check out. I picked up The Power of Now from the library, and though I found it an enjoyable and informative read, it got a bit spacey for me towards the end. There are definitely some good ideas and takeaways in it that I have found useful and/or inspiring.

The next read.

Somewhere in my internet wanderings I came across the High Existence website through a shared link, or something, I don’t remember. They have a suggested reading page which I found had some interesting titles. I picked up one of them yesterday from my library, The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton and am looking forward to digging into it. I’ve got an account over at Goodreads.com, so if you’re into that sort of thing, let’s hook up – I’m always looking for books to add to my ‘Want to Read’ list.