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Being Brave

I stared up at the giant before me. This construct of wood and empty space, left open to the elements, led to a summit just outside my range of sight. I may not know what lies in wait, but I knew I only had one shot at this.

Nobody lived in the big house. At least, we had never seen a living soul enter or exit. There was a wooden fence and a huge yard that separated two one-bedroom cottages from that house. I was barely tall enough to look over the fence on tiptoes. The other side of the fence by no means forbidden; Mom would often let us play in the yard, as long as we latched the door in the fence. I still carry a scar from the one time we forgot to.

Books I Did Not Finish

I used to see my way to the bitter end of books, even the ones I couldn’t get into. After many years, I decided life’s too short to be reading books I hate. I wouldn’t force myself to eat food I didn’t like, or spend time with people who make me a worse person, so why am I forcing myself to read books that aren’t adding value to my life? And so, I entered the world of “did not finish” books.

The Art of Resilience – How to Sisu

How to Sisu - The Finnish Way

If you couldn’t tell from previous posts, I’m fascinated by Scandinavian culture. So I was pretty excited when I heard about The Finnish Way, by Katja Pantzar. What is sisu, and do I want it?Sisu is a mix of grit, resilience, mental toughness, practicality, and fortitude that allows people to keep going through seemingly impossible odds. The book quotes a 1940 Time magazine:

“The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win. The Finns translate sisu as “the Finnish spirit,” but it is a much more gutful word than that.”

Reading that now, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, this time in a city not 60 miles from me that I’ve visited many times – it hits really close to home. My heart hurts for everyone affected by all these shootings, and I have so much admiration for their strength and compassion in the face of adversity.

The Library

The Library

“AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH—!”

He landed hard on his back. He struggled to catch his breath, while his mind scrambled to understand what had happened. One moment, he was being shoved off a cliff by his wife; the next, he was lying on a marble floor, in what appeared to be a library.

He sat up. Not dead. No blood, no broken bones, no shattered organs. Somehow, he didn’t die, and ended up here instead.

“No, you died,” a voice said behind him.

He whirled around to see a woman sitting behind a high counter. Slowly, he got to his feet. Dead or not, he hurt like he just fell off a cliff.

She smiled politely at his approach.

“Have you come to return a book today?”

“I’m sorry?”

“The book you checked out is due today.”

“I don’t have a book—” He suddenly felt something in a pocket he didn’t know he had. Reaching in, he pulled out a well-worn paperback, with random pages dog-eared. The covers were sun-faded, the pages slightly water damaged. He hesitantly handed it up to the woman, embarrassed.

She took it without a word, without breaking the polite smile that looked like it reached her eyes, but may not have.

“Where am I?”

She flipped through the book, smoothing out the folded pages. “You’re in the Library.”

He glanced around. “I can see that.” The room was round, bookshelves covering every inch of wall space. There was no door. Or windows.

He turned back to the woman. “Where is the Library? Why am I here?”

She finished the inspection and set the book down, placing her hand on top of it. “You’ve come to return this life and check out another.”

“What?”

“It’s a routine procedure, you’ve done it many times before.”

“WHAT?”

She picked up a leather-bound book from a stack that magically appeared on her left and wrote something in it, then handed the book over the counter to him. He took it. It was a blank journal, brand new. On the first page, she had written:

CHECKED OUT 11/21/1907
DUE 3/26/1944

“Wait, today is October 12, 2019. How can I go back in time?”

She tilted her head. “Time does not exist.”

His vision begins to darken. Her voice cut through the last traces of his conscious:

“Have a good life.”

 

 

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

The Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone

Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone, Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

I love traveling. There’s an amazing feeling when you step foot in a new city for the first time. I also love reading travel-related books and blogs. So I immediately picked up Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom, especially since my most recent trips have been solo travel. (And the cover!)

I’ve gone on four solo trips, two planned and two that became solo trips because my friends bailed on me at the last minute. I was originally upset and nervous, but in hindsight, if they hadn’t bailed on me, I would never had started traveling solo. I wouldn’t have such amazing, memorable trips in five different countries.

That said, solo travel isn’t all fun and games. Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve encountered while traveling alone. (I’m starting with the cons cuz they can be fixed.)