Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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***Nothing Left Over

A Plain and Simple Life

by Toinette Lippe

Reviewed July 13, 2005.
Jeremy P. Tarcher (Putnam), New York, 2002.  257 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#4, Musings)

This is a book about living a simple life.  “The whole of this book is about ways in which we can live more freely in the universe, without most of the stuff we generally carry around.”

I was a little put off that the author doesn’t seem to realize that many other people can live simple lives in ways quite different from hers.  She talks about an assistant she had briefly who left her employment because she wasn’t good at details.  The author “explained to her gently that there are only details.  There isn’t anything else. . . .  It made me a little sad that during the five months she worked for me, she had not learned one of the most important things I had to teach her—scrupulous attention to everything.”

However, she does have some good things to say about simplifying, and some good things to say about life.

She worked for a publisher, and once procrastinated writing copy for a cover until the last minute.  She says, “After this I realized, somewhat ruefully, that it was not writing the copy that took time but the not-writing of it.  The not-writing was a tremendous burden that I had carried around unnecessarily for weeks.”

Some words about life:  “The other trick we often try (on ourselves) in order to avoid dealing with what is in front of us is changing the circumstances.  This usually does not solve anything.  It just postpones the moment when we have to face whatever it is.  Some people are always changing jobs, and others go from one ‘life’ partner to another.”

Some other words that spoke loudly to me were:  “Perhaps the reason so many of us feel driven by exterior circumstances, be it household chores or the volume and intensity of our workload, is that we often have a fixed idea of what we still have to do (or are avoiding thinking about it) and when we believe we should get it all done.  None of us can measure up to this ‘tyranny of the shoulds.’  For some strange reason, we have the impression that everyone else is living a perfectly ordered life, even though it is obvious that they are not.  We all have things that never quite get done, but the truth is that however long you live and however hard you work, you cannot finish everything. . . .  Some of the pressure we feel comes from the fact that we focus on what we haven’t accomplished rather than what we have.”

And here’s a thought that I hope I will take to heart:  “Once we begin to catch sight of our desires and then let go of them, we can take an extra step:  We can actually rest.  It has been said that true rest takes place only between one desire and the next, between the moment when you have relinquished one thought and before you have been hooked by the next.  When worries awake me in the middle of the night, it is obvious that I have not been resting.  I was not able to surrender my problems before I went to sleep.  I am not resting either in my bed or in the infinity of space.”

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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