Lately I have found myself collecting what I consider to be more meaningful and useful drive time material. This is, in part, thanks to a great blog post by Seth Godin, Can an audiobook change your life?, in which he relates the impact of listening to really useful non-fiction as a source of inspiration, motivation and, frankly, just good old fashioned brainwashing (the good kind). He began listening to “books on tape” when he was just starting out, allowing Zig Ziglar to wash over him continuously, supporting the fragile infrastructure of self-confidence and determination he was slowly, steadily turning into entrepreneurial success.
As I continue forward in my own new endeavor I find I am more open than ever before (please see my post on meditation for a really good example) to new ideas, frameworks and possibilities. (It’s really quite alarming to realize how “safety” and “certainty” work in opposition to new learning.) Finding myself in undiscovered country, “whatever it takes” has taken on a whole new meaning.
That said, I gobbled up Seth’s recommendations, starting with Pema Chodron‘s Don’t Bite the Hook. Chodron is an American Buddhist nun and the recording is a series of talks she gave during the course of a weekend retreat. It is truly a powerful teaching about our constant, all-too-human struggle with anger and resentment. Similar in many ways to David Foster Wallace‘s commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005, Chodron challenges us to remember that even though we can only see it from our perspective, the world does not operate from only our perspective and, regardless of who or what comes at us, we always have a choice in how we respond.
She encourages us to see the hook that is dangling in front of us, temptingly loaded up with more bait than we know what to do with, and begin to practice new ways of both seeing it and responding to it; challenging us to end the cycle of anger and hurt rather than perpetuating it with yet another open-mouthed, instinctive lunge.
I knew right away that this was a recording that my wife and I should be listening to together, certainly for the sake of our marriage but equally for the sake of our parenting. Our kids walk around with an arsenal of very large hooks and it’s our job to not take the bait; to respond to their anger and frustration with patience, calmness and loving rationality (permission to insert cynical laughter here). To have any chance of that happening more often (like baseball, 3 out of 10 times would be really good!) we first have to practice more consistently with one another. So we started. Small. We listened to a bit of the recording together and, as a result, have taken to liberally repeating the phrase, “Don’t bite the hook!,” when the pull to react and retaliate grows strong.
My daughter asked what it means and as I explained it was obvious that she understood right away. As you can see, she’s a natural.