Earlier this week I walked by a long line of Ukrainian refugees, waiting to be admitted into a large place. They are temporarily going to call it home. Sometimes a safe and dry place to sleep is home.
Looking at the world today, the war happening as we speak, the hideous ways power is transforming and exploiting human nature, the question : How Human are humans?
On that note, I want to share my impressions after having read these books.
A Manual for Being Human by Dr. Sophie Mort
Dr. Sophie - a clinical psychologist- is the kind of doctor I like: empathically sincere when explaining tough truths, direct and 100% human.
She also has a nose earing :)
This book is the opposite of an entertainment book, but it gets you glued like one of those. It gets you breathing faster when sensitive strings are touched. I cried. You will learn that crying is a self soothing thing, the body needs that. I pity those who cannot or don't allow themselves to cry.
It is written with so much empathy and care, leading the way into the unconscious - the part we do not even notice but the one calling the shots day by day in all interactions we have with the outside world, also during the interactions with ourselves.
Even me, someone who deliberately has been exposed to material of this type, I had to put the book aside in some moments and breath.
Dr. Soph is courageously addressing sickening things as : bulling, loneliness- deeply influenced by the way humans use and depend on technology, microaggression, verbal or not, coping strategies which do just that- help to cope for a while, advertising, social media, relationships - again, heavily impacted by technology.
I would gift this book to parents of adolescents mainly, and to any human trying to understand themselves and the others. There are pages left for writing, mindfulness exercises, questions that require more than a binary answer. These are questions you might never forget.
Dr. Soph knows that and she is kindly reminding the reader that you can close the book and get back to it after a short break, a cup of tea or a walk.
I feel more like myself, more knowledgeable, closer to my human, sensitive and breakable side - after having taken this walk with Dr. Sophie.
Now, if I take a step back and think at some of my past work experiences, there are memories in there which my mind somehow nested underneath everything else.
I remember having bosses yelling over me for no good reason- I have always been a self organized, happy to work, a conscious human being and "worker" learning and trying to get better. I remember others using microaggressions - I now know what those have been. Remember those who used passive aggressiveness to get a desperate reaction, those who thought that making fun of my learning process, and momentary weakness, was a good idea as to impose control and fear.
I remember how I reacted in most of these occasions- see the chapter on Fight-Flight-Freeze. With the help of the material in this book, I now know what happened in my mind and how the body protected my being, my sanity.
Please read this book if you are human and wish to stay so.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Hello Malala, I am Victoria!
This is what I would love to say, recognizing in this way the courage and truth of Malala. She is not a fictional character from a book, she is really Malala - born in Pakistan.
Together with her parents, they survived violence and war by fleeing into UK.
Malala was awarded the Novel Prize for Peace in 2014 for her:
"struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."
The story of their family living in Pakistan, her father the school director fighting to keep the school open for lack of resources, her great curiosity and desire to learn- despite being a girl in a society where this is not allowed, her struggle to nevertheless learn - going against the world- all this is deeply touching. It is human.
I get inspired and encouraged every time I meet or read about about a human being who -by a touch of heaven - follows their intuition, their heart no matter what.
Malala is having a nice life now, she recently got engaged and the "struggle" which propelled her to Nobel level is still happening but, I am sure, also by listening to her, this is not a struggle - this is her life purpose, which comes easily when we listen to that voice.
Please read this book too.
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover tells another incredible real story of human intelligence, curiosity and life purpose coming out of mud and growing stron