One of my favorite quotes of Maya Angelou is “if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I think that this quote resonates for me quite a bit these days as I deal with an almost completely virtual existence like many of you.
With respect to changes, my daughter just got her learner’s permit two weeks ago and our lives have gotten a little more exciting. On the one hand, learning to drive when there is a lot less traffic provides for a less stressful experience. On the other hand, helplessly sitting in the passenger seat and finding the correct balance between support and constructive instruction adds a few points to the blood pressure. We started off slowly with the basics such as slowing down for turns, always paying attention and staying in your lane. During this period, I felt as if I was contributing to the change I desired and soon she would be driving my boys to some of their activities.
This morning, it was my attitude that changed when I heard the phrase “the car is accelerating on its own.” Rather than complete panic, I calmly said “you hit the cruise control instead of the turn signal. Please apply the brake.”
Although there is no guarantee, I hope I can react with calm to all of life’s minor frustrations. I’m certainly going to try. I’ll either change my situation or my attitude but I’ll try not to complain (too much) either way.
This week’s selections are below:
- The Bascombe Novels by Richard Ford
This trilogy is among my favorites. When we meet Frank Bascombe in The Sportswriter, his unguarded voice instantly wins us over and pulls us into a life that has been irrevocably changed—by the loss of a marriage, a career, a child. We then follow Frank, ever laconic and observant, through Independence Day and The Lay of the Land, witnessing his fortune’s rise and his family’s fragmentation. With finely honed prose and an eye that captures the most subtle nuances of the human condition—all its pathos and beauty and strangeness—Ford transforms this ordinary man’s life into a riveting, moving parable of life in America today.
- The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
Written in 2016, this biting near-future satire is played out amid a chillingly plausible US economic collapse. The year is 2029, and nothing is as it should be. The very essence of American life, the dollar, is under attack. In a coordinated move by the rest of the world’s governments, the dollar loses all its value. The American President declares that the States will default on all its loans–prices skyrocket, currency becomes essentially worthless, and we watch one family struggle to survive through it all.
- Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda
Learn to connect better with others in every area of your life. Immerse yourself in spirited conversations with people who know how hard it is, and yet how good it feels, to really connect with other people – whether it’s one person, an audience or a whole country. You'll know many of the people in these conversations – they are luminaries in our culture. Some you may not know. But what links them all is their powerful ability to relate and communicate. It's something we need now more than ever.