The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman
This is a book I read last May and have finally managed to finish this little review!
As much as I like to look on the bright side, I remain skeptical of those of us who insist that they are permanently happy all of the time, and in order to remain that way they only have sunshiney positive thoughts. It can get a bit manic. I'm more into authenticity. Being human means we're subject to a whole spectrum of emotion, and a whole range of circumstances, it's part of what makes life interesting. I believe that our emotions can tell us a lot of important information if we listen and respond to them in a non-judgemental way, rather than insisting that they don't exist, or repressing them. Hence why I felt attracted to this kind of book. If you're sympathetic to these kind of sentiments you might just enjoy it too.
Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for The Guardian, and I really like the conversational style that he maintains throughout the book, it's a distinctly english journalist style, and I mean that as a compliment: that kind of Louis Theroux awkwardness sweetened with curiosity and politeness. Personally I really enjoy this kind of conversational style, which is informative without being too dense, considering some of the potentially complex philosophical subject matter.
The author delves into various approaches which consider the 'negative path', that is to fully accept certain aspects of living, such as suffering, death and approach them with more even headedness. He also considers the ideas of Alan Watts, who I introduced in a previous post, as well as the roman tradition of Stoicism, and Buddhism.
Burkeman also has a look at goals and suggests that they may not always be helpful. As a student of yoga, which is a practice of process and not of attainment, I'm really interested in this idea. As much as I love lists and plans and goals , I do think the suggestion to let them go is well worth considering. We often get too caught up in the end result instead of just being along for the ride, something I tried to explore in a previous post.
A worthwhile read if you're not convinced by peppy positivity and are looking for something which considers the full spectrum of the human condition, but light hearted enough to read and relax!
An interview with the author on NPR.
For Burkeman's Guardian column see here.
I've let things get a bit too quiet here! For the last two months my internet access has been really limited, which for the most part has been a good thing, but I'm sorry that I didn't get to share more on this blog. Here's some of what I've been up to:
Since my last post I've been busy working days teaching yoga and evenings as a waitress, while in the meantime surfing, meeting some great people, and enjoying la vie francaise. Living in a tent has had its ups and downs, but the view through the trees in the mornings was a pro. I have to admit that while tent life is great for climbing holidays, personally when trying to juggle work I found that it could get a bit challenging. During the high season when everything was at full capacity was a test of my patience at times, mainly because it seemed to be impossible to find silence. Also the heat building up inside the tent was sometimes too much to bear! But always felt better after a yoga class, I was lucky to have the opportunity to have such a lovely group of students at BoardnBreakfast, and also lucky to be a student in Caroline's Yoga. What a brilliant teacher, can't believe I happened to stumble upon her classes while in Hossegor. Definitely something I'll really miss. I really enjoyed her fluid style, and definitely hope to weave some of this into my own classes over the coming months. Should anyone feel like a surf yoga retreat in Costa Rica I highly recommend this teacher. Really helped to keep the flame burning bright.
Food glorious food! Always a favourite topic of conversation. And of course France being the capital of haute cuisine. Or not, as we discovered. In general we found the standards in the restaurants fairly disappointing. All of the menus were the same, never veggy friendly and nothing new or exciting. Maybe it's inevitable in a high volume tourist destination, but generally things were over priced and underwhelming. Definitely made me appreciate the great restaurant scene that is flourishing in Dublin at the moment (can you tell I like eating out?!) However we did find one or two places that made up for the rest. Delicious tomato salad exactly what you want on a hot summer's day. I thought that working in the restaurant industry would have put me off eating out but actually it just made me want to go out more! Because of our work hours we found it really difficult to make much food ourselves and stick to healthy eating habits. One benefit of working as a waitress meant that I got all my meals taken care of, but I must admit I'm really looking forward to being in charge of my own food again. We did manage to have smoothies for breakfast every day though, despite the tent, yum!
Slacklining on the beach not a bad way to de-stress before work! Some days I'd fall into an typical habit of thinking 'oh no, work later', and then I'd remember that I was sitting on the beach about to swim in the atlantic all 5 minutes from 'the office'. Reality check, not much to complain about! Got a fair amount of reading done, and I've finally got an iphone although apparently I haven't got the hang of the camera because unfortunately I don't have many other photographs to show. We've been surfing a good bit, invested in a board, and we've also taken up skating, with longboards, which has been much more fun than I would have guessed, but I don't have any photos!
Now that we've left Hossegor I've got some distance to reflect on our experience there, looking forward to sharing these thoughts with you in the next post.