- Daniel Quinn Book Club — Ishmael, week 8: chapters 12 & 13
- Brené Brown Book Club — The Gifts of Imperfection, finishing week 7-8 reading: Guidepost #7 – End
“Now you can answer the question: What happens to people — to creatures in general — who live in the hands of the gods?”
“Ah. Yes, I see. They evolve.” Compare Wholehearted people having a growth mindset as opposed to non-Wholehearted people having a fixed mindset.
“Yes, okay. The premise of the Taker story is the world belongs to man.” I thought for a couple of minutes, then I laughed. “It’s almost too neat. The premise of the Leaver story is man belongs to the world.”
If the world belongs to and is separate from man, if some people are “other” because they don’t live as Takers do, then Brené’s definition of spirituality is betrayed.
“… we can take it easy and leave the running of the world to the gods.” Compare the 10th Guidepost involving letting go of “always in control.”
“And then, of course, you must spit out the fruit of that forbidden tree. You must absolutely and forever relinquish the idea that you know who should live and who should die on this planet.” Compare the basic structure of the 10 Guideposts as involving letting go of something. While on some level all the letting-go items flow from Taker culture, compare especially these which are fairly central to Taker delusions of believing they know what the gods know: perfectionism, scarcity and fear of the dark, the need for certainty, comparison, exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as as self-worth, “supposed to,” “always in control.”
“In my experience, you never really know how you’re going to handle a problem until you actually have it.” Compare being in the arena, and letting go of the need for certainty and “always in control.”
Guidepost #9 — Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
“When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feelings of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear, and even grief.”
Compare Quinn’s discussions of Taker culture as creating misery for most people. Compare, specifically, this quote from this week’s reading:
“Naturally a well-run prison must have a prison industry. I’m sure you see why.”
“Well… it helps to keep the inmates busy, I suppose. Takes their minds off the boredom and futility of their lives.”
“Yes. Can you name yours?”
“Our prison industry? Not offhand. I suppose it’s obvious.”
“Quite obvious, I would say.”
I gave it some thought. “Consuming the world.”
Ishmael nodded. “Got it right on the first try.”
“Every semester I share this quote by theologian Howard Thurman with my graduate students. It’s always been one of my favorites, but now that I’ve studied the importance of meaningful work, it’s taken on new significance: ‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.'” Compare this Q&A answer, one of several similar statements Quinn has made about people finding something uniquely and personally fulfilling.
Guidepost #10 — Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”
“… the two that keep us the most quiet and still are hustling to be perceived as ‘cool’ and ‘in control.'” Compare Takers need for control, certainty, conquering, and their abhorring that which they consider “wild.”
“When we don’t give ourselves permission to be free, we rarely tolerate that freedom in others.” Compare Taker culture’s need to pursue “one right way to live” and in turn to thrust it on others, slaughtering them if they refuse to assimilate.
“Despite where this book will be shelved in your local bookstore, I’m not at all sure that this work is about self-help. I think of it as an invitation to join a Wholehearted revolution… Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people — including yourself.” Compare in this week’s Quinn reading:
“What you’re saying is that someone has to stand up and become to the world of today what Saint Paul was to the Roman Empire.”
And from Chapter 2:
“Once you learn to discern the voice of Mother Culture humming in the background, telling her story over and over again to the people of your culture, you’ll never stop being conscious of it. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’ll be tempted to say to the people around you, ‘How can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?’ And if you do this, people will look at you oddly and wonder what the devil you’re talking about. In other words, if you take this educational journey with me, you’re going to find yourself alienated from the people around you — friends, family, past associates, and so on.”