This should be subtitled, “When a book blows your mind.” But, I wanted to make sure as many people read it as possible. Mention nakedness and death, and, well you’re reading this, aren’t you?
This blog post has had trouble getting out of my head, because there’s so much richness in it, it just oozes all over the place like crayons melted by the Key West sun in the back of your parents’ wood-paneled station wagon. But, I think I have a scrapped enough off that it’s in order again.
It all started with a moderately famous Seattle social activist, Mary Witter, (who also has the most adorable and love-bringing dog ever) suggesting that I read THE WISDOM OF INSECURITY by Alan W. Watts. The fact I had never even heard of it bemused Mary, yet, she’s a gracious loving soul and was happy she could share this book with me. And now, I pay it forward and share it with all of you.
If you haven’t read this book, read it today. Now. Yes, go get it. I wholeheartedly agree that this book should be required reading for college freshman. If you’re not a college freshman, you should read it anyways, especially if you are feeling like you’re in “searching” mode in your life.
I left organized religion when I was 18 years old. In my heart, I left my faith far behind well before that, but waffled for a few more years as I tried to balance my family’s desires and my own known truths. The whys and how is another entry, for another day. At any rate, I’ve maintained my spiritual nature, mostly through my connection with the earth and by following the change of seasons and the progression of time. I find the universe in the beauty around me. That, in my soul is the original goddess we call Earth. Couple that with a deep-seeded belief in the truth-seeking of science, and I end up with a cross-pollinated earth sorceress plus humanist belief system. There is no name for it; it’s just my personal spiritualism. At its core is that life is sacred.
As I’ve grown older the wisdom in the Tao and Buddha seems so apropos for the dissatisfaction much of western society has left me and my partner wrestling with for some time now.
Enter this book.
It blew my mind. It was able to bring to light so many things I had struggled with into a clear and concise way. All the ideas in here I’ve known for some time but for them to be presented in this type of package is epiphany-making. This will be a book I will have on my shelves always and return to repeatedly. This is a life text.
It may even be that a piece of this book may end up being tattooed on my skin:
“For the poets have seen the truth that life, change, movement, and insecurity are so many names for the same thing.” (pg. 41)
Watts further explains, “Struggle as we may, “fixing” will never make sense out of change. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” (pg. 43).
Watts hammers home that life is impermanence and merges the Tao and Buddhist beliefs that being mindful of the now is the path to not only enlightenment, but happiness. He writes (77) “…the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”
Perhaps just putting “taut as a drum and as purple as a beet” would be a better tattoo. But, I digress.
There is no security. There is no safety. Embracing that allows one to be free from this living in the past-chasing the future gerbil wheel we are on. And just be. Just be.
How elegantly wonderful and simple is that? For me, as I said, it was fog-clearing and has allowed me to be more present in right now. Like right now, I’m appreciating the free spirit the little boy in the tye-die shirt at the end of this ridiculously large cafe table who keeps getting in trouble for bumping the table from his apparent grandmother. I winked at him and told him it was okay when the adults weren’t looking. We shared a secret smile. Could he have knocked over my drink on my laptop? Maybe. But it was more fun appreciating his sweet smile, his spirit and connecting with him on a level no one else was aware.
Embrace the insecure. Be wise. It’s given me a new view on happy and a new peace I hadn’t known before. Maybe it will help you. Can’t hurt, eh?
Read this book. It will be on my “comfort” book shelf from this day forward.