My local Rent Tent Group hold a monthly book club, which I am joining for the first time soon. The book for this month is Half The Sky, a book written by two prominent political American journalists, Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof.
The book interweaves biographical stories, each one sharing the thread of sexual violence, ostracisation from society, misogyny and gender based economic discrimination. Each story is harrowing to read and yet I found myself totally absorbed in this easy to read book. I noticed myself becoming at times, angry, sad, hopeless, furious, depressed. However, I also noticed that a shadowy part of me was beginning to enjoy the horror and the horror of the horror itself.
After one marathon reading session, I took a loo break and reflected on what was really coming up for me from reading this book. I saw that my focus was entirely upon the heinous actions of the perpetrators and the shocking experiences of the victims…all of which were becoming overwhelming for me. I could also feel a growing addiction to hearing these horrific accounts and I could sense that I needed to take a breather.
Now, I find that my life really benefits from some codes of spiritual thought - they help me navigate the various moods I experience in life and reevaluate the direction I wish to take.
And the reminder that came to me in this moment is ‘where attention goes, energy flows’. So, I thought to myself that I had better either change my focus with this book or stop reading it altogether. Instead, I allowed my full attention to turn towards the heroes and heroines in the story. The book is full of them…This turnaround gave me the space to witness the courage and beauty of these stories, and also the freedom to let the stories go when I had changed my focus to something else.
Later that evening, I remembered a quote I once read: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” attributed to Fred Rogers, a North American children's television personality. Look for the helpers...so simple...maybe it could become a new skill? Maybe its a life changer?