Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Family Quiz for 2014

As usual , at the end of 2014, I went back and read through the journal I keep and was amazed at the many things that had happened during the year that I’d forgotten. It was a tremendously full year. While I have the impulse to wax lyrical about it, what seems to be more enjoyable and generate more interest are the family quizzes reviewing the years.  In fact, I think it’s getting to become a bit of a tradition. So here is the quiz for 2014. Since I stuck with questions about those who are most likely to see it, this is probably the easiest family quiz yet.

1.        Who went on vacation and ended up in the emergency room?
2.       Who quit their job and began their own business?
3.       Who  fell into a swimming pool fully clothed?
4.       Who  moved from the city to the suburbs?
5.       Who had a moose in their back yard?
6.       Who took a trip in a submarine?
7.       Who was elected president of his class?
8.       Who made his first communion?
9.       Who has a mother that wrote a book?
10.   Who passed an important certification exam?

Who did not    ____________?
11.    Start a new job  or get a promotion (a) Maura, (b) Maya, (c) Eli, (d) Ed
12.    Make a trip to Buffalo (a) Mike & Lora, (b) Dan & Maura, (c) John & Melissa, (d) Pat & Rita
13.    Touch a snake (a) Liam, (b) Mike, (c) Owen, (d) Jack
14.   Have writing published (a) Lora, (b) Ed, (c) Maya, (d) Mike
15.   Sing in a Christmas program (a) Amelia, (b) Maggie, (c) Connor, (d) Jack
16.   Have to fly on a plane for work (a) Mary Beth, (b) Rita, (c) Lora, (d) Pat

What is their pet’s name?
17.   Maya
18.   Owen
19.   Amelia
20.   Maura

Bonus – Who noticed that the stamps on the Christmas cards that Mike and Lora sent out was a picture of all the Northen family cousins?

1.       Pat
2.       Eli
3.       Lora
4.       Maya
5.       Ed
6.       John
7.       Jack
8.       Andrew
9.       Dan
10.   Maura
11.   (d) Ed
12.   (b) Dan and Maura
13.   (c) Owen
14.   (a) Lora
15.   (c) Connor
16.   (a) Mary Beth
17.   Cinnamon (or Cinn)
18.   17. Joey Ramone (or Joey)
19.   Poppy
20.   Kitty 2.0

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Book That First Changed Your Mind

There is a question  that I have been wanting to post on Facebook for some time because I am really interested in hearing the responses of others, but when I think about posting it I also envision the pajamas that Maura got Maggie for her birthday.  It has a picture of a cat and reads, “It’s all about Me-ow.”  Since I’d rather that shirt not become too appropriate, I’ve decide instead just to post the question here in the Northen News blog where anyone likely to read it is already family.

Here is my question. “What was the first book you ever read that really altered your way of seeing things?”   I’m not just talking about talking a book that you really got involved in and just couldn’t put down.  What I mean  instead is a book that once you had read it, you could never look on your life or beliefs quite the same way again.

For me that book was Alan Watts’ The Way of Zen, which I read as a freshman in college in 1965.  I’d been raised Roman Catholic and gone through twelve years of catechism.  In ninth grade, in fact, I was even considering going into the priesthood.  In essence (though I sometimes found certain aspects of the Church’s teachings difficult to reconcile) I was a true believer.  As I came closer to graduating from high school, however, I began to ask questions.  By the time I began college, my faith had come loose from its moorings.  I was looking for some way to make sense of those kinds of questions that religions ask. 

 What struck me about Watts was that he was looking for alternative ways of viewing things and he found them in Eastern religions, long before Zen or yoga became chic.  He pointed out something new to me at the time – the extent to which language shapes what we are able to think. English, for example, requires a noun and a verb? Watts asks, “What happens to my fist when I open my hand?” The answer, of course, is that it disappears because there never was such a thing as a fist.  A fist is really an action and not a thing.  It is an impermanent relationship. The ultimate impermanence of everything including - perhaps especially - the self is a main feature of Buddhism and other Eastern religions.  This was not, as in Catholicism, the idea that the soul is permanent and the body temporary, but the realization whatever it is that we called our self yesterday is not the same thing as it is today. A core self as a permanent entity is a fiction.  The result of reading The Way of Zen for me was that I could never return to my old way of thinking.  It was as though a bridge had been burned.

Of course  since those long ago days, I have read other books that have deeply affected how I think, but I do believe that Watts’ book was the first.  What I’d like to know from those of you reading this is what  the first book was that caused a paradigm shift in your thinking.  Leave a comment here, telling me what it was and what kind of change in thinking it caused for you.  (After looking back at what I've written, I think I probably need to borrow Maggie's pajama top, but I'm going to post this anyway.)