What I have learned from about twenty-years of serious reading is this: It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99% of what I read, but if the 1% of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99%. ~John Piper
I have not read the book this quote is from nor anything from the author, but when I encountered this quote, I recognized an experience I too have had. As one ages, forgetting 99% of what you have read becomes an ever stronger possibility.
And of course much of what one reads over the years is forgettable, some of it best forgotten...but words that are life changing, have life in them can be, to paraphrase an instruction in The Book of Common Prayer, read, marked and inwardly digested. You are what you eat...
I am currently reading a book on short story writing that has some great insights. It's valuable on many levels and yet due to the tone and perspective of the author I find myself unwilling to broadcast her gems. I may not begrudge the 99 % I forget, but when work as a whole is marbled with mixed influence that requires significant work to sluice the gold from the dross, I am reminded how much matrix matters. And it is what we draw into the very matrix of our own beings that matters the most.
What will I do with Write Purpose and Bread on the Water this year? There are a few posts I have put up and then taken down... It is again the issue of influence.
Recently I looked over entries that I began and never finished or chose not to post and found several that I began on boundaries. Sometimes, seeing others' personal revelations on line, I scurry off. I remember a mandated group process class years ago, where one member offered herself up and others lured her deeper into the woods of self revelation where wolves snarled and as a pack devoured her. She completed the coursework, but did not become a psychotherapist. Perhaps it was ultimately a service to her. She didn't belong, standing alone out in that field of work, but I couldn't reconcile the willingness of other up-and-comers to use her vulnerability against her. And of course I learned that good Samaritans were next on the menu.
So what sort of reticent goop did I find trekking around in my unposted archives?
2-11-11 The idea of making a true journal entry here is really beyond me. Boundaries prohibit some revelations that would be completely central to the fluid stream of consciousness and dot connecting that are the benefits and delights of private writing. Some boundaries are natural, true to my identity and are worthy of observation, but others, though I may feel their strong mandate may be external and unnecessarily restricting...
Okay, I am good with this...I don't want to do an on-line journal per se. Journal and memoir writing, as rich and wonderful as it is, best not be confused with the art of literary fiction. I may be both too otherwise occupied and too lazy to ever do the work fiction requires.
7-2-11 As regards boundaries, the demands of work, profession, and identity are powerful. People ask, "What do you do?" Some people answer that question all the time with their neckline, from collared priests to those sporting plunging cleavage on dark streets. Others don't find identity in the doings of life. Identity transcends what we do and yet we struggle with what how what we do might be shaping, defining or redefining us.
Who can avoid asking "What am I doing?" "What have I done? " " What can I do?" "What must I do? "
"What do you do?" as a question is often just an honest attempt to get to know another, but sometimes, it is asked just to size another up and compare how one fits into their personal hierarchy of importance. Sometimes people are just asking how you put bread in your mouth, how do you get bread? Some want to know, if by their standards, you can justify your existence.
Well themes such as these two unfinished, un-posted examples, apparently important to me, but thus far, hard for me to write about as they bring me up against my reticence, may have to come into clearer focus.