Broken Open

Yesterday I bought a new book. Which in itself is a thing, since I`m trying to get rid of books, reduce my load of stuff. I got a Kindle to reduce the tonnage of paper I live with all the time. But, y`know, a Kindle in the bathtub, probably not a wise idea. So, I still buy actual paper books.

This one is by Elizabeth Lesser, called Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. It`s one of those books that`s so exactly what I would want to write, it makes me think, “what am I thinking? What do I have to add to this?”

The point Lesser would make, though, is that the story each of us can tell is our own. As we journey from dark into light, or from apparent light into darkness and back again, we are never alone. No matter how grievous the loss, how excruciating the pain, how foolish I feel, others have trod this same path. The more we share of those experiences where we are only human, the more we recognize ourselves in one another.

She opens many chapters with a quote that sets the tone for that section. One of my favourites is from clown-activist Wavy Gravy: “We`re all bozos on the bus, so we may as well sit back and enjoy the ride.” All of us feel strange and ashamed, “as if there is another bus somewhere, rolling along on a smooth road. Its passengers are all thin, healthy, happy, well-dressed….hold jobs that don`t bore or aggravate them, and never do mean things or goofy things like forget where they parked their car, lose their wallet, or say something totally inappropriate.”

She goes on to say that it “may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus – that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going – is also filled with bozos: bozos in drag, bozos with secrets.” We`re all alike, we all make mistakes, and when we feel the most vulnerable, the most stupid, the most hurt, that no-one else could possibly be quite as much a bozo, is when we`re the most human.

Some famous person (I can never remember if it was Leonard Cohen or T.S. Eliot) said that the broken places are where the light gets in.

I`m only partway through reading the book, but I pass it along as a strong recommendation. I`ve laughed out loud, I`ve cried, I`ve nodded in recognition and put the book down for minutes at a stretch as I thought of something in my own life conjured up by one of her stories. It`s already a classic that has earned a place on my shelves.


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