Is there really a book inside of us all?
Updated: Mar 18
They say there's a book in all of us. I remember my nannie used to read a lot - my nannie being who you might call your gran, granny or grandma. I remember one of my favourite places to go with her was to our local library. Remember them? When borrowing books was the done thing - how very sustainable we were.
Her books (and mine) had a cardboard insert stuck to the inside right hand front page. The cardboard had two or three rows printed onto it and a folded pocket in which the card to identify the book was placed. The card was removed when it was booked out and one of the boxes was stamped with the date the book needed to be returned. I used to love browsing and choosing which books would come home with me.
I’ve always been a reader going from ‘chick lit’ in my twenties, to non fiction crime books and criminal psychology, the odd autobiography here and there, through to what I enjoy reading about now – humans, humanity and spirituality.
Lately, reading has been a journey (for want of a better word) of self realisation and personal improvement. I’m deliberately staying away from the traditional classification of ‘s**f h**p’ as I believe it’s so much more than that. It’s personal growth and knowing that I am not and never will be a perfect human. That every day and every book is an opportunity for me to learn. For me to become more of aware of who I am and how I can try to be a 'better' version of the human I was yesterday. But with compassionate acceptance that I will inevitably fail along the way, which for someone who has always had a problem with shame and embarrassment, is not easy.
Brene Brown and Susan David (Ph.D's - I'm careful about who I take advice from) talk about finding that space between comfort and courage. The space that allows for incremental growth. The sweet spot of taking on new challenges without it being so much that it’s too frightening or out of reach, where confidence has room to bloom.
So with all of the reading and listening to podcasts, coupled with the new found gift of time and space 2020 gave me, I decided to start writing a short story. I had started writing poetry at the beginning of lockdown 1.0 and was reminded I had won a poetry competition when I was 7 or 8, the prize was my poem being published in a Ginn workbook. Go 7/8 year old me.
The mental chatter went a little like - "maybe I've always been not too bad at writing but I've never realised it. Would it be so crazy for me to try to write a short story? And who really cares if I do or don't? I was doing this for me. Shhhh please mind, just write and see what happens."
"You can't get to courage without walking through vulnerability."
Brene Brown, Ph.D
My daily practise to quiet my mind doesn't stop me from pondering how on earth we solve the problems humanity is facing. Like the colossal magnitude of the climate crisis, the bulging landfills, inequalities and the sixth mass extinction. There are days when I feel hopeless. When it feels like it's all too difficult to solve (and I’ve probably been watching, listening or reading too much). Then there are days when I am full of hope (and I’ve probably been watching, listening or reading too much). When I remind myself that change happens over time, incrementally. But that time, as we know, is running out.
And that's what my story had to be about. My fictional way out of this mess.
"The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make and could just as easily make differently."
Adam Curtis, Can't Get You Out of My Head.
I started to think about what would need to happen for life in 2030 to be better than it is today. Who would the characters be and how would they influence what's happening?
I began to think that although we all have a different viewpoint of the world and how things happen, what we do all have is the capacity for compassion and caring. But somewhere along the way, for the 1%, have these traits been replaced by greed and power? When did having a place on the Forbes Rich List become more revered than helping others?
I asked myself, "why does any one person need $45,000,000,000 spread between their tax dodging bank accounts when almost half of the world is living in poverty?"* That's someone who has $12.3M to live on per day compared to almost half the world living on less than $5.50 (excuse the dollars please). It’s so far removed from basic humankindness that it’s alien. Is that why they’re trying to get to space?
Then I started to wonder, was it even elites and Government who would affect what 2030 looks like? Perhaps the 99% do have the power to change things? How? If we are to believe what we see on the news or social media, we're becoming more divided. Our beliefs about how the world should be would appear to be at polar opposites. Why? Are we being turned against one another by a clever machine?
Have we been conditioned by the patriarchy to disengage, distrust ourselves and feel disempowered to the point of reluctant acceptance of what is? Are we being pitted against each other in an attempt to divide and conquer? Has the religion of rampant consumerism created Gods out of Brands and Logos that have created such a strong belief that those who visit their places of worship to pray at their alters – the checkouts, are anaesthetised and incapable of engaging and mobilising? Or is that the job of pushing legal (and illegal) drugs? How do the 99% create a global community of humans who want what's best for everyone - including the 1% - the 100%?
Thanks to reading and listening to various historians, thinkers and philosophers, I considered that no matter who we are or what we believe, the one thing we all have in common is that we each have a heart, a mind and a gut. And we are all connected to each other. My story, it was turning out, was going to be about consciousness.
How do we get from zombie like states of consumerism, holding on to unhelpful beliefs, and destructive unconscious behaviours to a state of collective global conscious humanism?
I am under no illusion that my story may be an overly simplistic approach but it's my story and it's fiction. I'm indulging my inner child and embracing the joy of letting my imagination run wild. Is there a book inside of me? Without choosing courage over comfort and stepping into vulnerability, I will never know. The story begins...
*<$5.50 per day. I'd argue living on less than $20.00 per day is disgraceful and unnecessary in 2021.