I was feeling a little down and disconnected the other weekend. The fractured, polarized, and often angry society we live in had been hitting me particularly hard. In my sullen state I did what I often do to cheer me up, I went to a bookstore.
I really didn’t plan on buying anything that day. But then I saw a light glimmering from an end cap in the shape of this book.
The book first caught my eye because it was written by Brené Brown. Brown’s books have been a tremendous gift to me in the past, though I could only get through a couple of pages of both The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly before I would tear up, have to set the book down and digest Brown’s words for a few days or weeks before moving on. Let’s just say they were slow, sometimes painful reads for me.
But when I saw the subtitle for Brown’s new book, The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, I knew I had to buy this book no matter how hard its words may be.
Like many of you I have felt increasingly lonely and isolated these past few years. To be honest, I have always felt like a bit of an outsider in my native surroundings, the Deep South of the United States. But during these years when the increase in political divisiveness combined with a sharp decline in the practices of civility and common courtesy, I have many times been scared to let my voice be heard.
Then when I did open my mouth to speak my truth (with what I hope was civility and respect), I sometimes got dismissed or attacked from people that I considered my loved ones. Over time these encounters, which many of us have experienced, can leave us feeling quite alone.
So Brown’s promise of finding both courage and belonging seemed too good to pass by.
Let me go ahead and and tell you, that in typical form, Brown does not disappoint.
Except this time instead of putting down the book in tears I was soaking up every word as fast as I could.
Reading Braving in the Wilderness was like drinking a cool glass of water after being thirsty for so many years.
Brown begins by slaying us with Maya Angelou’s quote,
“You are only free when you realize you belong no place–you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
Confession: I did cry when Brown recounts meeting Dr. Angelou for the first time. And I pretty much kept crying until she finished the first chapter by quoting an interview where Angelou talks about learning to belong to herself. But these were all happy, healing tears.
Brown then goes on to outline the path to belonging to ourselves.
People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.
Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil.
Hold Hands. With Strangers.
Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.
Brown explores these claims with her unique combination of clinical research and personal stories. Claim after claim, story after story, chapter after chapter, I could feel hope and courage returning to my world weary soul.
It is true that Brown’s words, though they are simple and true, are not easy. The challenge she issues to “brave the wilderness” in our current times will take effort and commitment. But this challenge to stand stall AND reach out to others with civility and compassion is an essential one. And it is a challenge I continue to be so grateful to Brown for sharing.
To read more about Braving the Wilderness or to purchase it at Amazon.com, click on the icon below.
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