Yesterday, I talked about how important it was to be intentional in our development, to continue learning about ourselves and growing. It may have come off as work, but the final three books I share demonstrate the passion, excitement, and joy that comes from being yourself.
Being different, unfortunately, comes with penalties. We live in a world that prefers one kind of person, and to grow up with a different skin color, or set of desires, or sex is to face constant setbacks. We can end up learning that what we bring to the table isn't valuable or shouldn't be made visible. That's why works that explore our great diversity are so important: we can show that normal looks far more diverse than often presented and that we exist.
We also then challenge those that can fall under the normative paradigm to risk that privilege to explore who they are, to look beyond the surface that they've been congratulated for. They must reflect on how they acquired their worldviews and to think about the pain that they carry with them as well. My hope is that when people see books about underrepresented groups, they don't shy away but embrace them because they form a richer view of the world than we all are normally presented with.
Being an adult isn't easy. Everyone ages, but growing up isn't an automatic thing. To me, it means becoming increasingly responsible to the people around you, including your family, friends, community, and society at large. Tending to aging parents, handling a mortgage, guiding a career, supporting a partner: life's obligations are not always fun.
What makes it more difficult is the assumption that we already have all the skills we need to navigate life. We absolutely learn from those in our lives, but with so much to learn I also turn often to books for guidance.
One trap I avoid is learning to be productive, because productivity plays into consumption — that the reason to create is for someone else's acceptance. Instead, I do it to work on understanding myself, realizing that the more I know myself the better the work I create will satisfy me.
A favorite quote of mine is by Georgia O'Keeffe, who said: "Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing — and keeping the unknown always beyond you." These books help make that unknown known.
Reading is fundamental. As Stephen King notes, writing is the closest thing we humans have to telepathy. That we get to regularly explore other people's emotions, ideas, and experiences—especially ones different or foreign to us—is a luxury I don't take for granted.
Food waste is a huge issue. Combined, Americans and Canadians throw out almost $200 billion of food each year, equal to hundreds upon hundreds per person.
We do this for many reasons. Food is plentiful and relatively cheap, and yet at the same time our need for value means we buy in bulk for a discount even if we actually lose money by throwing out much of it. The media shape our standards to only want “perfect”-looking food, meaning lots of perfectly-fine food goes unsold at the grocery store. Inconsistent and often-flawed guidelines confuse when food is still edible, with “best by” dates benefiting manufacturers more than customers.
Last week, Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal released a comic called "You're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you," on how our brains can reject information that conflicts with our worldview. People kept sharing it, and I saw it enough times to finally check it out. It's a great look at why, contrary to our expectations, we can cling to our beliefs, even when they're proven wrong. Near the end, Inman confides that there's no easy solution to the backfire effect, going so far as to say "there are ways of changing people's minds that are more effective...
“Just you tonight?”
So many ways to take that question. Most often, I’m gracious. Sometimes, though, I pick up the unspoken sentiment, the suggestion of something missing. An incompleteness. (A Forbes.com post last year had the headline “Is There Anything More Pathetic Than A Table For One?”) This is the apparent plight of the solo diner.
Some restaurants bury single patrons in the least desirable geography of the room. Others direct them to the bar, regardless of the tumbleweed rolling by the tables. Not every restaurant creates this estrangement, especially no worthwhile one, but eating alone can feel like the bottom of the totem pole. That’s too bad, because it can be — and, for me, often is — a wonderful experience.