I like books that spark ideas and help me to look at the problem from a different angle. I like receiving inspiration that reminds me to meditate or exercise. But I realise I am tired of the books that give me advice, strategies, tactics and journal writing prompts. I do not like the idea of fixing myself anymore. I am not going to try and fix or change me or you.
I was given a raw vegan recipe book for my birthday and at the start of the book is a chapter on the author’s story. I really dug in and enjoyed the story of how she found yoga and how it influenced her and how she has met the challenges of her upbringing.
But very quickly the author then started to share hints and answers to questions that a lot people ask her. I get it. She is now famous and people ask her questions about how they can be fitter and healthier but I think learning someone else’s answers to questions about our own life doesn’t help.
Everybody’s story is different and I suppose the author thinks she is being helpful. That people want to be helped. But her story is her path and it worked for her unique life but it won’t work for anyone else. I think once she’d told her story she should have left it at that. There was no need to go on and offer advice on what people should be eating. So many people are telling us what and how to do things. I like hearing the story of the struggle but how someone else got through it with exact tactics won’t work for me.
I think we are interested in other people’s story because people are so interesting. No two lives are ever the same and that is why I love the genre of memoir so much. And it is why I like to read memoir and novels about fictional people’s lives.
I love reading about how other people face the challenges in their life and this does not immediately lead into asking for their advice about the struggles in my life. I don’t need to know their story so I can see how they made it through so I can apply it in my own life, but because the humanness of the story is comforting and I feel inspired to pursue my own life and chase down my aspirations and fight through my struggles just as they have done.
I have just read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, ‘Wild’. I really enjoyed reading it. I am guessing Cheryl would not tell anyone to go hike the Pacific Trail, to solve their spiritual dillemas which is good. What worked for her won’t work for us.
When someone articulates the feelings, they experience when facing a challenge, I feel a sense of being understood and even seen by them. I stop feeling alone. And that is why I like reading and hearing someone else’s story.