Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

January 3, 2021
by jenniferpuryear

3 Years of New Year’s Resolutions…

My friend Patricia Eastwood stops in today with a funny and heartfelt reflection on 3 years of New Year’s resolutions, plus a book recommendation.

I’m starting the book tomorrow, if not sooner! It sounds so intriguing and thought-provoking for January of 2021…

From Patricia:
For the past three years, I have come up with a New Year’s resolution that I felt might make some kind of positive change in my life and seemed easily achievable. The best one was that first year – I am definitely wearing more dangly earrings three years later. Life changing actually. I have found that what I choose to wear does impact how I think. That second year, I committed to more “spa and ah” – it was an epic fail – but, I did learn a lot. I burned my eyebrows and embarrassed myself in spa settings and wasted a lot of money at places with the word “European” in their name. This experience has added clarity to my lifestyle that will serve me well for the rest of my life. Then came the resolution for 2020 – something about having a sugar free day once a week. Ahem. Once food became scarce on the shelves for a few weeks, it was revealed to me what a misdirected goal that really was – making a specific choice begins with having that specific choice available. My 2020 goal should have been “make do” and find ways to not get grumpy about having to “make do.” By operation of circumstances, that is basically what my 2020 goal became and has been my study of self improvement for the year.

Success. I have survived and learned strategies for managing disappointment and, more importantly, as a parent, child, daughter in law, supervisor and sibling, growing my empathy for others experiencing disappointment. The most important strategy I have learned is to celebrate the things that did come through – the moments that were not cancelled – the time together that was had – the technology that did work – the miracles that happened – the moments that affirmed that life keeps going even when it changes (people still got married and babies were still born).

This journey has led me to my 2021 statement of focused resolve. This year it was easy (as is the resolution) – I am reclaiming excellence as a standing life goal. Forget “survival” and “incremental improvement” and “I feel ya” and “please hear me” – after all, 2021 is a whole percentage point of my life, if I live 100 years; and I am going to make the most of it. When making a decision about whom to spend time with – what to do with my personal time – where to place emphasis for my profession – what to read or watch – whether to eat a food group or not, I am going to ask a fundamental question: Does this choice contribute to my desired destination of personal excellence?

Directing my effort is a memoir I am revisiting this upcoming January, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (translated to English in 2008). The book is really more than a memoir.  The book is, I think, mostly, a statement of personal philosophy that complements deeper “sign post” studies like religion or eating better quite well. Murakami ruminates on his choices in this book (both the big and the small and even some directed by his confusion or lack of activity or preparation) and the reader travels with him as he tells his story of how he “travels.” By joining this journey, Murakami has stimulated my thoughts on decision-making and how my decisions and circumstances (some able to be molded and some not (hello pandemic quarantine!)) lead to destinations.

Happy New Year, everyone! May your 2021 present to you a clear runway rather than a mountain to be cleared.

January 1, 2021
by jenniferpuryear

Bitter-Sweet

Happy New Year, friends! Here’s a poem/prayer by George Herbert to start the year, either reverent or irreverent – you decide –

Bitter-Sweet

Ah my dear angry Lord
Since those dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament, and love.

 

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On George Herbert (1593-1633), from Interestingliterature.com:

“What of his poetry?

Thankfully for posterity, Ferrar chose to publish them and they appeared, as The Temple, in 1633, shortly after Herbert’s death. The volume contains the now rather unfortunate subtitle Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations, but it’s a succinct description of Herbert’s curious mixture – like the poetry of his contemporary, John Donne – of complex metaphors combined with plain-speaking. We feel, when reading a George Herbert poem, as though we are being personally addressed – even though, in many of his greatest poems, Herbert addresses himself not to us, but to God….

Herbert’s The Temple was the book that King Charles I read in his final hours, for consolation. Indeed, despite his short life and relatively small body of work, George Herbert remains a major poet of his own or any era in English literature.

 

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Photo by Jack Barnwell at Lake Tillery

(All other photos by JHP)