Sunday, July 18, 2010

A book, a bed, and closure

Most of the reading I've done over the past few years has been for my schooling. I'm attempting to get my master's degree in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration in IT. I've learned so much about business and work and leadership, both through class assignments and discussions and looking at the worlds I have worked in.

But this post isn't about all that.

Much of the recreational reading I've done over the past few years has been reading the Harry Potter series of books to my kids. I would do voices and accents, matching as closely as I could the voices of the movie actors, and making up the ones I didn't know.

We would crawl into my bed, flanked on either side by my kids. We started eating Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, but soon switched to just Jelly Bellys, as the "surprise" flavours were not welcome. Understandable.

I would read a chapter, or two, or three, and then we'd stop and pick up again in a few days. Or a few weeks. Sometimes months. But we'd get back to it. As we would stop for the night, I'd say the name of the next chapter, insert the bookmark, snap the book shut and give it a little shake as I held it in both hands.

We sat down in our basement to read the last few chapters of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" on Friday night. It has been fairly hot here, and the cool air of the basement was very welcome. As we read, though, my oldest asked if we could read the last chapter in bed.

Of course we could. I loved her sense of the history of what we'd been doing, wanting to end as we usually began.

We made our way upstairs and assumed our familiar positions on the bed, me handing out a final batch of jelly beans. We read the last chapter and basked in the finality of the moment.

We made our way downstairs to the main level of our house, chatting about the story. My youngest then stopped for a moment, and asked if I could end the book as I had been doing, with the snap shut and shake.

I smiled, joyed by her sense of history and finality as well. I opened the book, read the last few paragraphs, and snapped the book shut, giving it a final shake. She beamed at me, and it was a fitting ending for a journey that lasted probably four years, seven books, a few thousand pages.

We've watched the movies, but they're a sharp contrast to the detail and fullness of the books. We've discussed this, too. I want them to know the value of reading a book, even if you've seen the movie. It's a different experience, and you get to see things in your head instead of what's onscreen. They've never seen a movie of a Harry Potter book before we've read the book, so they're getting to imagine things before it's defined for them by Hollywood. We finally caught up to the release schedule last fall and went together to see "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" in the theater, and will do the same for the last two movies in the series.

So, our journey through the pages and words of J. K. Rowling's wizarding world has come to an end. I love creating memories like these. I don't think I do it often enough, but I'm happy that I got to spend these hours with my girls, and I hope I never forget the joy we've all had. I hope they never forget, either.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cool concept came through

Started listening to buddhist podcasts again today. Good thing, too, 'cause it kinda blew my mind a little.

I was listening to Stephen Batchelor's "Deconstructing Buddhism" series on Audio Dharma and he was talking about the, well, the site says it pretty well, actually: "Based on an examination of early discourses found in the Buddhist Pali Canon, this class explored the question: "What did the Buddha teach that was distinctively and originally his own?" By differentiating the Buddha's Dhamma from the ideas of Indian religion and metaphysics that prevailed at his time this class sought to uncover a clearer sense of the Buddha's message and then considered what relevance it still has for people living in the modern world. The day was divided between talks, sitting meditation and discussion."

So he gets to talking in Part 4 about a familiar topic to buddhists, that attachment, clinging, craving is the cause of suffering. Then he argues, though, that craving is actually the *result* of suffering. Kind of a chicken or the egg sort of thing, but it made a whole lot of sense to me in that moment.

You feel pain, so you crave that non-pain state. The pain isn't the problem, it's what you want *after* you feel the pain. Or the pleasure isn't the problem, it's that you want more once the pleasure is gone.

It's a slight twist on the idea that craving causes suffering. I crave a non-pain state, so I suffer. Not quite.

Pretty good stuff. Can't wait to hear more. I like Stephen Batchelor :)
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