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A New Bible,
This review is from: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar (Paperback)
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We'll get to my title in a minute. Cheryl Strayed's advice column can be called "the Anti-Tweet." Here you find no self-conscious or cliche ridden sound bytes, thank God, but rather full-blown responses that mirror what life actually is: complex, deep, funny, heartbreaking, difficult and unpackageable. Not that she can't come up with the bon mot juste. Quips she, "Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naive pomposity." Like that? If not, stick your ego back in its pouch for she proves her contention in every chapter.
Strayed is a good writer who gives good advice in such a rare form that she ends up teaching you indirectly HOW to learn about yourself. As the chapters fly by, you begin to get into the rhythm of how she sees what to pull out of a letter and why. This is easily transfered to any letter or journal entry you may write, giving you access to your own subconscious.
As a writer, I was particularly moved by her advice to a woman writer who slanted the whole issue negatively, trying to unify women writers with suicide. Strayed put a stop to that right away, saying that was not the unifying theme of women writers. This was: "How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured . . and went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be." Yeah!
This is a blessing of a book. She counsels, "I suggest you forget about forgiveness for now and strive for acceptance instead." And lest the correspondent doesn't get it, continues, "Acceptance asks only that you embrace what's true."
Particularly good and helpful is the chapter on whether to have a baby if you're single. She takes your hopes neither up nor down but says realistically, "Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that." Pretty funny in context, and oh-so accurate.
If you've lost a child you cannot do better than to read the chapter, "The Obliterated Place." It's a gift. Relationships? She makes a simple but often hard to see observation: "so long as you stay in a relationship that isn't meeting your needs, you're in a relationship that isn't meeting your needs." A fresh look at forgiveness: "Forgiveness doesn't just sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up the hill."
Strayed has written a spiritual book although I don't think she meant to. My favorite "parable" was the story of the red dress whose message gives the book its title.
She inspired me and I got to thinking about how judgmental, violent, punishing, rejecting and often illogical the Bible is, and thought perhaps the time has come to create a new one. I offer these books for inclusion beginning with "Kinship With All Life" to teach humans their spiritual connection with other life forms. "Illusions" for a few new beginning rules and the place of a true messiah. "You Can Heal Your Life" will explain about the sacredness of our bodies and how they teach us. "The Nature of Personal Reality" will once and for all show you your true power. "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway," gives you courage. For mystery, the first four Castaneda books. "The Chalice and the Blade" will take you back in time so you will stop repeating ancient mistakes. New rules each with their own wake up call can be found in the "Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment" Large and small truths of life are on every page of the "Conversation With God" series. Riddles are a necessity so "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" will fulfill that requirement. And of course we will include all the poetry of Hafiz, for laughter and love, compassion and understanding. Finally, a "must-include": we all still love and need good teaching stories, parables. "Tiny Beautiful Things" is chock full of them. Enjoy, learn, laugh, cry, love, take heart and grow.