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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Stopping to eat the pumpkin

I just got back from the monthly meeting of my book club. We discussed Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which is a great book. It's an easy read and it's full of moral pointers, simple truths that explain the hows and whys of things so well you can't help but believe them immediately and without hesitation. For example, consider this passage:

"She stopped. It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin."

Lately I've been feeling the need to read a self-help book. I like to read self-help books when I feel down or out of sorts. I think my general malaise has to do with the changing of the seasons, the shortening of the days as we move into winter. I am a summer child; I gather strength and am my strongest at summer's peak. My strength and resilience wanes with the fading light of fall and winter. Historically I have made my most life-changing decisions in December and January: quitting jobs, quitting lovers, dropping out of school, moving. Maybe I feel the need to do something in order to jump start my life when it's naturally at its least productive.

Anyway, so I'm feeling this general malaise as we move into fall and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has proved to be as good as any self-help book. The above passage reminded me that so often I can get caught up in negative thinking spirals where I replay situations over and over again in my head, describing them in great detail as if I'm explaining them to somebody else who happens to care very, very much.

A little of this introspection is good, but too much of it makes my head spin and doesn't allow me to move forward or to accomplish something of which I can be proud. It's at those times that I need to remember to eat my pumpkin, to stop and focus my attention on something simpler and--most likely--more important.

I also like how apt this visual reminder is as we head into October and pumpkin season. I think I'll buy one next time I'm at the store and put it on my desk.

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