A few weeks back, I read an article from Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits, which offered readers both an observation and a challenge:
You can go to the latest memes and viral videos (which are fun!) … or you can find a text and study it.
You can get caught up in frustration with how others are acting during this crisis … or you can practice opening in compassion, with compassion meditations.
This is a great opportunity to deepen into mindfulness and practice, to learn to face head-on the uncertainty and fears that arise in us, and to connect to the humanity going through this rather than disconnect from them.
We’re all monastics now — how will we use this time?
I haven’t had the same corona experience as most; our library team has shrunk over the corona period because of retirements and the like, so those who remain are working more hours and covering more responsibilities. Nevertheless, I’ve been trying to use my off time productively, in a mindful way — if only to keep my mind from dwelling on the problems of corona (isolation, loneliness, restlessness, etc). Following my morning coffee, on Saturdays I usually give my living space a good shellacking, working to reduce books, clothes, and physical media. One of my smaller campaigns within the broader minimizing mission is to destroy Mount Doom — as I affectionately call the towering mass of books in my bedroom.
Shot taken in April. Some of these titles have since been read (or in the case of Submarine! & The Middle Ages, donated)
At the end of July I drew up a little schedule called “Scaling Mt. Doom”, with its objective being to read at least two TBR books per month. As I did with the classics club (speaking of, I really should get to Brothers K), I’ve been trying to pair them based on some shared attribute. August’s scheduled reads are The Architecture of Happiness and How Dante Can Save Your Life, both being about meaning; September will feature two books related to education, October has two titles of German history, etc. It’s still a work in progress because I haven’t determined my Nov and Dec reads, though I think The Ends of the Earth, with its focus on the North and South poles, would be an amusing one for December.
Away from Mount Doom, my biggest literary goal for this year was to read 20 science books, which I accomplished much earlier than expected. I’m still one book shy for my science survey, though I have a title in mind for it. I wondered in June if I might make 30 science books this year, but Mt. Doom is a more important goal.
Here’s hoping we start escaping this corona business before 2021 starts. Losing spring and summer to it is bad enough, but there will be riots in the South if SEC football is cancelled…and I don’t want to think about Christmas’ prospects.