I read two books prior to retiring, carefully chosen. One was "The Road to Character" by David Brooks, the other "Since Then" by David Crosby.
I wanted books that could inspire me, fire up my brain and get me moving in the right direction. I need to make some changes to my psyche, need to find a way to think differently, act differently and, ultimately, achieve differently.
I do not like who I have become, a person who was created by my perception that I had to act in a certain way to survive the psychedelic nightmare my life had become. I am going to take the time to re-invent myself, or maybe just excavate the true self lying buried beneath the bullshit all these decades.
"The Road to Character" was just what the doctor ordered. It is a series of studies on people who actively worked to overcome their weaknesses and identify their strengths, and to use their new found wisdom to live their lives in ways that made sense to them.
Most of them had to work hard at it and many of them did not succeed, professionally or personally, until later in life. This resonates with me because I am 62. Unless I live another 62 years I am definitely later in life.
Apparently I am working to fulfill my mother's assessment, early on, that I am a late bloomer. I always resented that evaluation but now I would be happy to prove her right.
I dug the common thread that these people had to work hard to overcome their weaknesses and to identify and cultivate their strengths, that they failed time and again but kept at it until they created a meaningful life.
Feels to me like my thought processes have been so burned into my skull that it will not be easy to turn them around. However, since my brain is the main source of unhappiness and underachievement, I am going to hammer away at it until the phoenix emerges.
"Since Then" is David Crosby's second autobiography. The first was called "Long Time Gone" and was written in 1998 (yes, I read it.) So much happened in his life afterwards that he wrote "Since Then" in 2006.
I chose the book because Crosby has balls. It is as simple as that. I love the way he thinks, I love what he has achieved in his life, I love his creativity and I am amazed at the things he has survived.
He grabs life and wrestles it to the ground. I need me some of that.
I have been too weak, too accommodating to other peoples' whims and have lost myself in the process.
I tried to absorb his confidence from the pages of the book.
"Infinite Jest". I am rewarding myself with this book written by David Foster Wallace, a book he wrote in 1996. It was considered to be an amazing work of fiction and he was described as the next big author in the world of writing. A really big deal.
He killed himself in 2008. I don't know why.
It is a dense book, a challenging book both in size (over a thousand pages) and in scope. You really have to dig in to read it, you have to make a commitment and then let go and enjoy the ride. If you have ever read William S. Burroughs you will have some idea of what it takes.
I have wanted to read it for a very long time. I have owned it for at least six months, probably longer, but I never picked it up because it is not the kind of book you can read for two days and then skip for three days and get back to it.
You gotta dig in.
I started reading it on my first day of freedom and have been banging away at it every day since.
I enjoy books like this. They stretch my brain, they make me shake my head, they make me sigh, they make me think, they make me laugh, they make me feel alive.
I'm out of here.