You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams

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I found this book in the free bin at 2nd and Charles.  The title intrigued me, so I decided to read it.

The premise of the book can be summed up in this one quote,

“Right now, in this moment, without moving from where you are, you can find ample evidence to prove your life is miserable, depressing, and a terrible burden, or you can find evidence to prove your life is an abundant, joyful, exciting adventure.”

The book contains information on how to change you perspective and on how to deal with difficult situations.  It was an interesting read and I am glad I gave it a chance.

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

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Jones is one of the main characters in the book.  Jones notices things about people and helps them in times of trouble.  He teaches people how to gain a new perspective on their life.  He shows them how to be the person they want to be.  Many lives were dramatically changed, due to Jones.

A few of the principles taught by Jones are:

  • The struggles of life give us the strength we need to succeed in the future.
  • Read about the lives of great people, read about their struggles, their failures, and their success.  The experience of others is the best teacher.
  • If you continually focus on your needs, you will continually find things you need.  Instead, focus on the blessings you already have in life.  Gratitude will fill your life with happiness and abundance.
  • Happy and enthusiastic people are able to influence those around them.

This was a fun book to read and it’s defiantly a book worth reading multiple times.

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

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John Howard Griffin was a reporter in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  He heard about discrimination and segregation in the southern states.  He was aware of the civil rights movement that was just starting to take hold in Montgomery, Alabama.

Griffen knew as a white man, he would never truly understand what life was like for the black people.  Griffin wanted to know, “What is it like to experience discrimination based on skin color, something over which one has no control?”

Griffin found a dermatologist that was willing to prescribe medication that can cause a person’s skin to get darker.  The medicine was normally used for people suffering with a skin disease that caused white blotches to appear on their skin.  However, Griffin would need to take way more than the recommended dose.  The doctor required blood test during the first few weeks to ensure there were no adverse effects.

Griffin also used sun lamps and a stain to help his skin get as dark as possible.  Then he shaved his head and boarded a bus to New Orleans.  He spent several weeks in New Orleans, before traveling to Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Griffin gives a detailed account of his experiences in his book,  “Black Like Me.”  He was surprised to see how helpful the black people were to a stranger.  He was able to stay with various families and get to know what their life was really like.

At several points, he had to find a place to be alone.  He would start crying at the injustice he was seeing, especially when children were involved.  He was appalled by how some of the white people treated black children.

Griffin also described his interactions with white people.  He was taken aback by how hateful some people behaved.  He was amazed by the cruelty he experienced.  He would listen to white people talk about their moral and intellectual superiority; however, their behavior was a far cry from what they claimed to be.

He also talked about the people involved in the civil rights movement.  He encountered a group of white people actively working with the black community to improve conditions.  They were being targeted by their own race and viewed as race traitors.  However, they believed everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.  They continued fighting for equality in spite of the persecution.

The book is moving and well written.  You can easily picture the surroundings, the people, and the situations.  You can feel what the author was feeling.  This truly is a book worth reading.

 

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

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In the beginning, it was difficult to see where the author was going with the story.  I read four chapters before I understood the plot.

The setting of the story is Brooklyn, New York, during the early 1940’s.  The main characters are teenage boys named Danny and Reuven.  Both boys come from Jewish families; however, Danny is an ultra-orthodox Jew and his father would normally not allow Danny to hang out with Reuven.

The boys got to know each other after a baseball game.  Reuven was pitching and Danny hit the ball straight into Reuven’s face.  Since Reuven was wearing glasses, he needed surgery to remove glass from one of his eyes.

Danny felt horrible about the accident and would visit Reuven at the hospital.  At first Reuven had no desire to befriend Danny, but Reuven’s father thought it was important for the boys to become friends.  He told Reuven, “The Talmud says a person should do two things for themselves.”  The first was to find a teacher and the second was to find a friend.

Eventually, a friendship developed between the boys.  It required a lot of work and things didn’t always go smoothly.

The story teaches us a lot about the benefits of friendship and the importance of maintaining a friendship even when it is difficult.

Even though the book had a slow start, I did enjoy reading it and gained some perspective on the value of friendships.

 

What is an Artist?

I just finished the art history class at Kahn Academy.  During the first lesson, the instructor defined an artist as, “someone who is particularly insightful about their own cultural moment.”

I find that definition to be a bit restrictive.  I think an artist is someone who expresses themselves in a creative way or someone who has a unique perspective on the world around them and shares that perspective with other people.

I have a tendency to find beauty in the mundane and my favorite form of expression is photography.  As you can see, I will take photos of random flowers, animals, and even bugs.

I don’t think my photography says anything about my “cultural moment.”  I think it just reflects on how much beauty is in the world and my attempt to share that beauty with others.