The other day I wrote about the pursuit of happiness and how it is a daily pursuit that takes diligence. I can bring myself down all on my own, but if I consciously work on being happy I can also lift myself up.
Walking helps. It opens my eyes to the world around me. It gets me out of my own head. This week my head was swirling with negative thoughts. I’m not selling enough books. How do I get the word out without a publisher working for me, someone who can get me on that rotating ad that appears on your Kindle when it goes dormant? Someone who gets my book listed on those weekly emails Amazon sends? I mean really, do Elizabeth Gilbert or John Grisham need to be on that email?
But it was Elizabeth Gilbert who said, “You need to learn how to select your thoughts the same way you select your clothes every day.”
Thanks to my friend Dave’s visit last week, I am starting each day putting on good thoughts before I put on my clothes. Even before I drink my first cup of coffee, which is unheard of. I never do anything before my first cup of coffee.
The book I bought at Barnes & Nobel is by my bed. Yesterday started with this: “Better to be alone than in bad company.” ~ Thomas Fuller. The author added her thoughts: “Today if someone is polluting the air around me with their negativity, I will walk away, tune them out…”
Some days it seems like someone is always polluting the air. While walking along the Great Florida Birding Trail, I got to thinking about Internet critics. You know the ones, the experts on everything from restaurants to hotels to books. Everyone’s a critic today. Siskel and Ebert played by Kenneth Know-it-All and Mary Malicious. The path through the saw palmettos helped me forget all that noise.
Late on Tuesday, after an eight hour day at work, I walked out near the Pompano Lighthouse and thought again about the people who freely comment on anything and everything. They eat out at a restaurant, have a lovely meal but poor service, then head straight to Yelp and trash the restaurant. Does it ever occur to them the waitress might have been having an off night? She may have kids to feed, bills to pay, a dead beat dad who doesn’t keep up with his childcare payments? No health insurance? Did they address the issue with her or the manager? The manager who may be chasing his dream owning this restaurant? Like Andy in Take Me Home? Who are these people? What is on their minds each morning when they start their day?
If you’ve read The Reverse Commute, you know I like double entendres.
“You know something ? That reverse commute of mine is a double entendre. I just realized that.” “A double what?” “A double entendre. A phrase that can be understood two ways. Most people commute into Boston for work but I do the reverse, commuting to the suburbs. And it could also mean that I had all these expectations when I graduated from college and here I am moving backwards. Not moving towards my dreams, but further away from them.” “I don’t get it.”
I have made a promise to myself not to read my own reviews. The bad ones can really get you down. But the good ones keep you going, so I don’t always keep this promise. I am glad to report I have a lot more good reviews than bad. And I’d also like to mention, if you’ve read either one of my books and enjoyed them for God’s sake, please get on Amazon and give me a review. You’re all I’ve got, folks. I don’t have a publisher. I’m the publisher. So help me spread the word.
Anyway, out near Pompano Light I started to think about critical thinking and how it could be seen as a double entendre. Wikipedia says this about critical thinking:
Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, partially true, or false. Critical thinking is a process that leads to skills that can be learned, mastered and used. Critical thinking is a tool by which one can come about reasoned conclusions based on a reasoned process.
So true critical thinking is something like my new morning routine of reading a positive daily affirmation, reflecting on the day ahead of me and trying to make the most of each day. That bit about reasoned conclusions jumped out at me because I thought about the other type of critical thinking. The thinking of the critics. The ones who write things like this: “Didn’t finish the book.” But you’re reviewing it? How do you come to this reasoned conclusion of yours?
I am no fan of “The Process”. Dave and I discussed this last week. That corporate speak type of mumbo jumbo where more time is wasted at work talking about the process of work rather that actually doing the work. I am a fan of reasoned conclusions and when reviewing a book I think it is important to reach the conclusion of the story before voicing an opinion. That’s my humble opinion.
Enough of this negativity, these critics who review books they don’t finish. Someone who could say something like this: “Usually by the time you’re middle aged you’ve worked through your choices in your life. In my opinion, you don’t have daydreams.” It’s hurts my fingertips just typing that, but I guess we all have opinions, humble or otherwise. Imagine no longer daydreaming because you think you’re too old to dream!
On the other hand, I adore this 5 star review titled “The Book With the Amazing Highs and Lows in Reviews”. This reviewer writes: “When I read the reviews I picked this up with a huge dose of curiosity – I thought maybe it was one of those books with a load of good reviews that actually sucked – or maybe it was one of those gems that a whole lot of folks just did not get. Some books are like cilantro – you either love it or hate it. For me – I LOVED the book. I do not think this is a spoiler alert – but I am in my 50s and maybe that had something to do with why I loved it so much. There was a perspective I could grab on to with both hands. But I think the same could be said for a person between 25 and 35 – because the story has a strong story line from that perspective as well….don’t over think the reviews – just relax – read – and enjoy the ride! I fully enjoyed the writing style – and although I did get a bit confused about the parallel story lines at times I REALLY liked it! This is NOT a formulaic romance novel – it is a unique story line with huge doses of life as it really is”
I thought of this lovely woman, whoever she is, when I wrote this in Take Me Home:
Next, she tried the fish. “Okay, what else don’t you like?” he asked impatiently. “Cilantro. I hate cilantro.” “All right, I don’t really like cilantro either.” He picked up the two dishes, getting ready to leave. “Hey, don’t I get to finish the chicken? I liked that.” He handed her the plate with the chicken. “Make sure you bring that back to the kitchen,” he said.
Later in the novel the characters resolve the cilantro issue:
“That Mexican chicken soup was delicious, Senorita. But where was the cilantro?” She laughed, waving to him. “The cilantro again,” she whispered to Andy. “I know, he’s not the first person to mention that,” Andy said. “But I hate cilantro. I wouldn’t know how much to add,” she replied. “I’ve got an idea . Let’s serve a small bowl of it on the side and let them add their own.” “You are brilliant, my friend. How did I not think of that?” she asked. He earned a kiss.
Now that’s some critical thinking.
And to the woman whose dreams have slipped away, the one who is of the opinion you don’t have daydreams in your fifties, all I can suggest is try listening to music. Music really helps me in the darkest night when all else feels helpless. Because if you lose your dreams, you will lose your mind.
Don’t question why she needs to be so free
She’ll tell you it’s the only way to be
She just can’t be chained
To a life where nothing’s gained
And nothing’s lost
At such a cost
There’s no time to lose, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams
And you will lose your mind.
Ain’t life unkind? ~ Mick Jagger