How many times in a life do you get to read a book which reformats your brain?
I can think of 3 distinctly;one from my late teens and the other 2 from within the last decade.
When I was 16, I would spend hours in the school library, reading Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. The reading took place in between casually brushing up my Maths and Physics schoolwork – for I was a quintessentially lazy student, taking great pleasure in my subjects, but not ever having to break a sweat. This foible stood me in good stead right through my first year at varsity, and then broke down under the pressure of the second year.
But I was speaking of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, wasn’t I? The adventures, life and thoughts of Kip, the avatar Oscar the spacesuit, and Peewee. Kip spoke through me. His joys and sorrows were mine, and his heroism something I could aspire to.
But there was another important character in this tale, wasn’t there? Yes, The Mother Thing, whose voice took years to be heard in the ringing chaos of my soul, but which was a current running deep and slow through all my years of trial.
I was well into my forties before another book came along which had such a profound effect upon me. When I read it for the first time, I remember being astonished that people actually wrote in such a manner – full of emotion , and spirit, and meanings peeking out from behind the words. I really had not known a book before which so shook my entire worldview. At that stage I was a professed Atheist, and a pretty damned obnoxious one at that. William Irwin Thompson’s Coming Into Being showed me that another way of looking at the world was possible; a way not covered by the despair, mechanistic materialism or dismissive self-righteousness which had constituted my coping mechanism for the preceding 20 years. It – slowly at first – reformatted my brain and then started in on my soul…at which point I was willing to concede that I did, in fact, have one.
The latest work to have gently shaken my being is the one I’m finishing up a first read of now. Paul Levy’s Dispelling Wetiko has gripped me so strongly that I have been loathe to complete it quickly. Rather, I have been slowly absorbing and applying the ideas from this remarkable book in small morsels each night. Then I have been stepping out into the world each morning with new insights into the What, Why and How of incarnation upon this plane. I haven’t fully digested it yet, but Levy’s speaking imagery just has not let me alone since I opened his book. I fully expect these learnings to shape my understanding in a pretty radical fashion , as indeed they have already started doing.
A work of joy and sorrow, but hugely deep consequences to how I consider myself and how I take it forward from here.