Have you ever checked out a library book, taken it home, started to read it—and then, felling silly for having taken it home in the first place, ended up finishing it in under twenty minutes? That recently happened to me when reading Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants. It also happened with a little book by Maya Angelou called A Brave and Startling Truth.
With one of those supremely cutesy titles and a heavy heaping of sentimentality, Unitarian minister Robert Fulghum’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is an overstated list of things that we all pretty much already know already—many of them simplistic enough to not need stating, let alone further illustration. Sure, it’s kind of cute, in one of those Hallmark, in the mood to watch Little House on the Prairie ways, but it’s far from revolutionary. I’m sure I learned more from The World According to Mr. Rogers (which is actually a lovely book) than Fulghum’s largely hailed work.
Though the month (and the decade!) is nearly done, it’s never too late to brush up on your spiritual literacy. How do you do this, you might ask? The first step might be reading up on your own religion. If you haven’t read your religion’s main doctrines from cover to cover, you might want to do so—especially if you want to be sure that your religion is truly for you.
If you don’t subscribe to any particular faith, you’ve exhausted the texts in your own, or you’re simply interested in other faiths, this is a perfect opportunity to truly study different religions. Where I come from, most people think that Buddhists “worship Buddha,” and with so many green “JESUS” signs around, I always think it would be pretty cool to put up a big green “BUDDHA, “KALI,” or “THOR” sign—not exactly for spiritual reasons, I suppose, but to at least acknowledge that there’s a lot more diversity out there.
Maybe it’s because when you read a Mitch Albom book, you KNOW your’e in for a sob fest. The biggest criticism he receives, I think, is being overly sentimental. So why pick it up if you’re, like, not wanting a good cry, right? Or maybe it’s because his books are all pretty similar, and you’re not exactly being a literary genius by diving into one. Either way, I think I’m too old to care about what other people think about what I’m reading, so I’ll cop to loving Mitch Albom right now and stop the hiding.
If there’s any spiritual concept we could all really learn—or re-learn—these days, it’s the interconnectivity of the planet and its inhabitants. Rather than revolving our lives around the seasons, we are mildly inconvenienced by them; instead of giving thanks for rain, we curse it; and we shoo away wild animals, passing legislation to cut their numbers instead of recognizing them as fellow beings in this experience we all share on Earth.
In All I See is Part of Me, a young boy realizes that the entire universe is part of him—and he, part of it. One day he decides to ask the sun, “Who are you?” To his astonishment, the sun replies, “We are one.” And so the boy embarks on a beautiful journey of discovery in which he learns that the sky, the stars, and everything on Earth are all connected to him.