ON WHY WE TELL STORIES

“Part of..suffering is that [you] can’t articulate it. Pain is resistant to language; it can reduce us to a stage before language – to the confusion and anguish, the cries we had before we had words. Karen Blixen said, ‘All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.’ But what if a person can’t tell a story about his sorrows? Experience has taught me that there are stories that we never found a way to voice, because no one helped us to find the words. When we cannot find a way of telling our story, our story tells us – we dream these stories, we develop symptoms we don’t understand… 

“We will probably never know what’s the point, but we can find meaning, and ourselves, through speaking and listening. We are born into a world of feelings and words; we become who we are by sharing our stories. We need others to help s make sense of ourselves. From our first words to our last, we’re story-tellers, but we can’t be story-tellers alone – we need someone to listen.” 

– Stephen Grosz

VALENTINE’S DAY IN PARIS

I normally ignore Valentine’s Day, relationship or no. In fact, it’s even better to ignore when you’re in a functioning relationship. That is somehow even more cool. This year, however, I’ve decided to think of ways to appreciate it in a way both reserved and tasteful. So here are some dogs frolicking in Paris streets. 
Photography via Peter Turnley.

DEL VALLE REGIONAL PARK

Sandy hill
Livermore
It rained all weekend, which was badly needed, but being cooped up indoors means that you have time to miss the green.  So I took a virtual meander through my memory cards and found these from Del Valle Regional Park. 
It’s a nice and easy stroll, with some rolling hills (see above) and very little elevation gain. There’s a expansive lake which I captured a tiny piece of, and which is probably the park’s best and main feature. When the weather is more accommodating, you can kayak, boat, fish, and possibly even swim. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good shot, it probably seems squat and dirty from that angle, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it. 

red treeslake

PREVENTING THE ASIAN FLUSH

I’m allergic to alcohol, and there are all sorts of suggestions out there, mostly from well meaning friends to drink a bottle of pepto bismo before going out, take anti-histamines, slowly build up tolerance by downing a glass of wine a day. My question has always been – is it really worth it to get sloshed? How important is it to go wine tasting? 
Then this appeared. I’m on the fence. #Firstworldproblems.

FICTION AND NON-FICTION: THE SILKWORM AND 10% HAPPIER

Silkworm and 10 Percent
The Silkworm and 10% Happier

The Silkworm

Everyone knows that Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling in disguise. I know that as well, but if Rowling wants to write as Galbraith, then I will review Galbraith as Galbraith. This is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series, which is a vulnerable time in a book series. The initial freshness of the first book has gone, while familiarity with characters has not been established. I didn’t enjoy this book as a a mystery. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t enjoyable – what I liked was the steady development of the characters, Strike in particular. 
With this second book, Galbraith slowly fleshes out his two main partners, Cormoran and Robin, and their relationship to each other. There’s a delicate balance that has to be maintained; there’s a sense of tension. You don’t know where it’s going. That is where the main drama lies, at least for me. The case they’re pursuing is not as engaging, and I’ll leave it at that. The richness of the novel comes from every character detail as they are revealed. You can feel the firm and steady hand of the author behind these characters, shaping them until they can stand on their own.  
10% Happier
Up until this book, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was that television news reporters did. I assumed most of them read straight from the teleprompter, in a way reminiscent of Cyrano de Bergerac. Apparently, they research and pitch their own stories and read what they themselves have scripted. So in that sense, I was mistaken.   
What I liked about this book, is that it addressed the most practical way to apply meditation and Buddhist principles to problems you will face in your daily life, such as the vague flash of panic you may see in the eyes of your family and friends when you start talking about meditation and Buddhism. 
Like a good journalist, Harris continually questions his chosen topic, approaching meditation from all angles, subjecting his practice to hard and endless questions, and deriving a methodical, realistic approach in return. His answers and his meditative practice are complicated and reasoned, and a good  way to go about finding your own way.