It’s been howling and pouring for the last two days — and now the weather folks are telling us the news: a big blow is coming! (That news story is California-centric, but its map is not.)
We’ve been having this-and-that warnings all week. High surf warnings. Travel advisories. High-wind warnings. At one point the Seattle area was under 14 different warnings at the same time. Portland, about the same. The pineapple express, usually semi-rare, has been running on a regular schedule this season. Even with the big storm less than 24 hours out, meteorological models are still arguing with each other about whether we’re expecting hurricane-force or fizzle. But what we’ve already gotten is impressive enough.
Of course, no matter what I can say about this part of the world, somebody else always has more drama. And welcome to it.
Whatever the weather where you are, may you be safe and cozy from it.
The howling woke me at 2:30 this morning. The wind was lifting decorative plaques on the outside wall just over my head, then slamming them back down against the siding with various thumps, chitters, clangs, and chatters.
Nevertheless, I woke feeling an uncanny peace. Normally I can’t meditate in the middle of the night, but my breath, and a nice, relaxed focus, came easily. I just went with it.
Eventually, both dogs and the cat realized I was awake and wedged themselves against me — kitty to the right, Ava to the left, and 50 pounds of Robbie lying on my feet.
So serene. So warm. So pleasant — until my legs demanded a little more circulation.
I’ve finally found a book that’s seriously helping my hermitting. A book from an unlikely source. Its author, Dan Harris, is, of all things, an ABC news guy (Nightline and Good Morning America).
He lives in New York City. Loves to travel the world. Had a loving, upper-middle class upbringing. Was raised hippie-artsy-liberal. Has been fiercely ambitious in a cutthroat career. Is happily married. Has a junkie’s craving for thrills and danger.
In short, he ought to be my opposite. I should have nothing in common with him. But OMG, the guy shares some major part of my brain!
His book is called 10% Happier.
More precisely, it’s called 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.
That his opening paragraph reads: “I initially wanted to call this book The Voice in My Head is an Asshole. However, that title was deemed inappropriate for a man whose day job requires him to abide by FCC decency standards” … just makes it better.
He started out as an insecure, thrill-seeking young reporter (in over his head and knowing it). Then, with religion having become political, anchorman Peter Jennings chose Harris to be his religion reporter. Harris had zero interest in religion. He spent his early years on the beat mostly doing snarky stories about evangelical Christians. But then, in a winding course having to do with people he interviewed, he gradually became intrigued by, then interested in, then serious about, meditation.
Where the totally unexpected brain-sharing comes in is that Harris, like me, is not only a skeptic, but he’s somebody whose hackles rise at the merest hint, the slightest whiff, the faintest breeze of woo. Or of pseudoscience. Or unlikely claims. Or phoniness. He takes nothing on faith and believes nothing that can’t be either scientifically proven or empirically replicated. His BS detector goes off … well, about as often as mine does. And mine goes off so often and so loudly that I can’t even read most “spiritual” books or listen to most “spiritual” gurus without wanting to gag.
I have long been stuck with a combination of feeling intense “spiritual” longing and total fed-upness with overblown claims, fantasies, wishful thinking, lies, threats, myths, cheesy money-wheedling (whether ala Sedona or ala TV preacher), false fronts, spiritual fads, sentimental glurge, and airy wafting. This has made it really hard for me to progress spiritually — because spirituality is always wrapped in layers of such stuff.
When people try to pitch their belief systems at me (or even when I pick up someone’s “spiritual” book on my own, hopefully seeking), my response is: give me the facts. Not quotes. Not statements of your (or anybody else’s) personal belief. Not dire warnings about what your god will do to me if I don’t comply. Not gooey stories about guardian angels giving kittens to little girls dying of cancer. Not speculations about “astral bodies” or reincarnation or eternal souls. Not high-flown, but content-free, language. Just point me toward the facts that back your position and if I discover that those facts hold up under dispassionate examination, then and only then, will be interested in hearing more.
I had begun to conclude that I was never going to learn anything useful about matters of the spirit. I had become so soured and stubborn that, no doubt, I was rejecting some decent “core” stuff because it was wrapped in such thick glops of you-know-what.
Well, so did Dan Harris. But he got past the glop and got somewhere (and not by lowering his standards, either). Now I’m getting somewhere, too.
At this point, WordPress ate the rest of my post. So I’ll be back later after I recreate what got lost. Will — I hope — post that and some Amazon links people have requested this evening or tomorrow a.m.