The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
“To be or not to be--that is the question,” says Bill Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But is it? As simple as Hamlet tries to frame that question, just simply being -is easier said than done in this year 2021, when after months of having to put things off we are asked to do even more. More. Waiting.
Waiting to be the next to go down a snow-covered sledding hill on an icy day in February. “It’s supposed to be my turn, but those boys are taking all the best lanes down!” Or waiting in a closed off, darkened room to get that second injection in hopes that it will be the necessary step toward having visitors come again. Or waiting for a loved one to return home from another tour of duty when the last tour was certainly supposed to be the last one.
Delay upon delay upon deferrals take a toll in any situation, so how do we motivate ourselves to just be? How do we find our way to a middle place in a world of extremes? And most importantly now, after 12 months of caution, what does it take to get to a place where someone, anyone, is ready to declare, “This really is almost sort of kind of normal again!”
I realize the answer is different for all of us. Maybe it takes focus. Maybe it takes diligence. Or a resolve we didn’t know we could nurture but have done all this time. Or maybe it takes a capacity to let go and lose oneself in guided thought.
Or who knows, maybe it just takes reading the right book.
Here are some motivational new titles which might be helpful in finding new ways “to be” in our present timeframe.
For most of the approximately 200,000 years that our species has existed, we shared the planet with at least four other types of humans. They were smart, they were strong, and they were inventive. Neanderthals even had the capacity for spoken language. But, one by one, our hominid relatives went extinct. Why did we thrive?
Let's say you set out to learn a new subject or skill, and you succeed. That's great. You've added to your knowledge and abilities. But it's limited to just that one thing you've learned. Now imagine that instead, the skill you learn is...how to learn. Once you know how to learn-smarter, faster, and better-you can apply it to anything.
When Jennifer Palmieri realized that everything in her life had been shaped by men, she wanted to make a change. From work behavior and use of language to wardrobe choices, she decided to follow her own convictions.
In her second poetry collection, Barbara Kingsolver offers reflections on the practical, the spiritual, and the wild. She begins with ‘how to’ poems addressing everyday matters such as being hopeful, married, divorced; shearing a sheep; praying to unreliable gods; doing nothing at all.
And then there are the lessons that only children know, and stories for children, which take us back to that comfortable place we forgot we had, a day ago, a year ago, or even further back.
Did you hear that? Was that a crack in the ice? Did you see that? One penguin, set adrift! It's just the start of this unexpected romp around the world for one small penguin.
When a thriving forest is swallowed by wildfire, its residents brace themselves and look to new beginnings.
In a flock of "perfectly same” pigeons, one member redefines perfection, demonstrating the joys of being unique.
Finally, this last title feeds my motivation for the year to come, continuing through the pandemic, the loneliness, the love, the hope, the fear, and the grace which only a smile can bring:
What is Bear to do when he wakes up one day to find his Smile gone?
Find your smile. It only takes a moment, but it lingers in our consciousness for much, much longer. Motivational smiling…maybe it’s not quite as catchy as all that “slings and arrows” stuff when things are tough, Bill, but finding your smile no matter what- that, may be the best way “to be.”