Addicted to reading, I clearly remember the time when I was around 23 and diligently read to the end of a very long Danielle Steel book. It was so superficial, I was shocked, dismayed and outraged. I threw the book across my bedroom. It smacked into the wall with a loud thang. That was the first and last time I read a romance novel.
I stopped reading three books for the opposite reason: they were so good, but emotionally devastating, I could not endure reading more.
First, a friend loaned me a copy of SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA. The book vividly describes the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 when European powers met and divided Africa among themselves. By the time I got to the section about Belgium and what that little, innocuous small country in Europe, famous for its chocolate, did to the people in the Congo, I had to stop. Leopold of Belgium was a monster to those people. The book has forever blackened that country in my mind. No longer could I endure the truth of history, the horrifying reality of what European colonization actually meant to those colonized. When Africans began invading Europe two years ago, because of that book, I held little sympathy for Europe. Karma.
Second, I read DESTRUCTIVE EMOTIONS as a self-help book. Its high intellectual discussions among Western scientists and the Dali Lamia about brain activity and Buddhist doctrine were challenging. At one point, I had to abandon the book. My brain felt faulty, self-destructive and lost. I feared I held the answer to all my questions about life and emotions but was unable to apply what I was learning in my own life. I resumed reading it just recently. No longer feeling like a failure in life, I was able to enjoy and appreciate the play of West meets East.
The book discussed educational programs for teaching children to learn about the emotions they experienced with a traffic light symbolism. Red = STOP and allow the emotion to be but do not let the emotion overwhelm you so you don’t become the slave to that emotion. Yellow = WAIT. Examine your reaction options. Think how they will hinder or help everyone involved. Choose the wisest response. Green = GO and act.
I theorize that human evolution is a process by which the rational/reasoning mind controls emotions in a healthy, constructive manner. In other words, up until now, most everyone is a slave to their biology which causes emotions. Human evolution is the learning to understand, control and use emotions and the entire human body in a healthy manner. This is achieved by applying reason and logic compassionately.
The third book I ceased reading was SEX IN HISTORY. It became so depressing after reading culture after culture, time after time in history, where women were oppressed, denied any freedom, and totally enslaved by the men in their lives. I have the book on my shelf, ready to resume reading when I feel curious again. Even the fabled Greek democracy and Roman Empire gave men near-total control over women’s lives
While young in my early twenties, forty years ago in the 1970s, a smarter woman friend advised me it was a man’s world. “But what about the cultural revolution, and women’s freedoms?” I countered. She shrugged while putting on mascara, conniving how to get her banker lover to marry her, while foolish me thought I was equal and as free as men.
My reaction to SEX IN HISTORY was similar when my magic teacher informed me that in reincarnation, people stayed the same sex. I was shocked and angry to think I was doomed to ALWAYS be a woman.
Years later, we teachers in Taiwan had a holiday to ‘honor ancestors’. Reflecting on this helped me connect Buddhist reincarnational teachings with DNA. Everyone has had past lives, and we inherit information from both male and female ancestors. I began writing short historical life stories for THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY DNA.
I will return to SEX IN HISTORY when I am so bored, my reading addiction will remove the book from the shelf and I will brave the horrors of reality. Usually, reading is an indulgent escape from reality. Not with these three books.