This morning I taught my son that the smell that arises when you open an old book is what magic smells like. I was rapidly getting ready to get out the door to work, when Dylan asked “what’s this mommy?” I turned to see that he was pointing to my small package from thriftbooks.com. “Oh those are mommy’s treasures!” I replied. “Treasures?” he asked. I went to the package and slowly slid the contents from the bright wrapping. “Waaaaawwww!” he responded in a breathy reply. He took the books and ran to the bottom of the staircase to show his daddy in pure excitement.
This. This was the reaction that I was hoping to invoke in my (almost) 4 year old.
After he calmed down, I began to show him each one of the books. When I got to my early printing of a Dale Carnegie book that is the perfect amount of tattered, I cracked it slowly and asked Dylan to smell. I bent down myself to take a sniff and let him watch me marvel at the smell of antique mixed with knowledge. He stood in awe for a minute.
To me, the smell of old books is probably what Heaven’s library smells like. This particular sensation where smell mixes with nostalgia, is not something that can come from a screen, and I want my son to know that. That smell was so what I was after that I had purposely searched for an early printing of Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, strictly for authenticity.
In the 1930’s, Dale Carnegie and another author I hold dear, Napoleon Hill were at the forefront of a major movement which we now deem as “personal development.” We can sometimes forget that learning skills and learning how to evolve ourselves is a life long process. Both of these gentlemen were teachers who re-taught us what we already know deep down inside, but possibly forgot. From there, they taught us even more skills to make us even more great. All of what they teach is fundamental, and most of it can come very naturally to us, but it does take discipline and self-governance. In today’s society, self-discipline, patience, and self-governance isn’t really taught nor modeled. But I for one believe that it’s high time for a major come back. Whenever I think about diligence, I think of my maternal grandfather. It conjures up memories of his garage where his metal desk sat next to the fridge that kept his beer. Above that desk were pictures of sesna airplanes and maps with routes of his next flight patterned out. My grandfather to me is a Dale Carnegie or a Napoleon Hill.
After seeing both Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill’s most popular books repeatedly listed on the must read list of every nuru, guru, and billionaire with integrity that I follow, I myself picked up the books to read. When it comes to How to Win Friends and Influence People, I want to re-learning the lost art of conversation because in today’s society it has became a slippery slope of text messages, Kardashians, and Tinder. Along that slope we lost the ability to effectively, efficiently and honestly communicate with one another about unlimited topics.
Personally, I like to emerge from verbal exchanges fulfilled, joyous, and with new information to ponder. In other words, I’m ready to understand other people’s viewpoints that differ from my own. If I’m not going to get that, then I would rather sit in silence because I can no longer resort to safe small talk to keep everyone comfortable in their delusions. When it comes to engaging in conversations of a professional manner, I am deeply interested in being a better executive, and while I’m at it, I wouldn’t mind becoming fluent in the fine art of closing deals. I feel like this book published back when verbal and written communication were at a premium, is going to help.
When I read books by the likes of Mr. Carnegie and Mr. Hill, I purposely search books printed the year they published. I do this because I want to feel the energy from every soul before me who picked up that book with the same intentions that I have now. It helps to further push me along and drive the knowledge deep into my subconscious so that my usual reactions are overridden by a new and happier way of being. This then makes me a better wife, a better mother, a better human. From there, my family grows and evolves all because I made the choice to do it first. After that, everyday interactions with others gets better. The work day goes smoothly and even challenges end up pleasantly resolved.
How self-development helps
While the art of conversation is just that, an art, one will find that without self-examination good conversation is a challenge. This means that the art of personal development must go hand in hand with conversing. Without the true understanding of self, one might leave a conversation offended, upset, angry, or the conversation will just resort in slander and gossip. Both of which are the lowest form of communication. It contributes zero good into the world.
Over 8 years ago, I began my development with books. Books and writing. To this day I continue to add more and more resources to my learning. More tools to my toolbox so to speak. At first it was a challenge to sit and sort myself out. You have to think hard and honest about where you want to go and how you want to go about the business of becoming who you really are. You must do this despite the opposition of other’s opinions or world trends, and there will be opposition. It’s a deliberate choice to live a simple and a more defined life, and it’s one that I may have not quickly chosen had I not had a child. However I have risen to the demand to set an example for my son because the thought of not raising an emotionally intelligent, articulate, and positive contributing member of society is against my DNA. He will surely see Michael and I make mistakes, but then that gives us an opportunity to be example of learning from and fixing those mistakes. If you live and parent from the heart, you just can’t get it wrong.
So often, and I am not an exception, we complain about how things are not changing. In that moment of frustration, what fails to dawn on us that things only change when we do. Your energy and your presentation package speak on your behalf miles before you even get the opportunity to utter a word. Just take a look around, there are some crabby fuckers among us. Why is this?
It’s because they are sad.
The emotion of sadness that goes on unchecked for too long only leads to anger. Unchecked anger leads to hate. Unchecked hate leads to rage, and what is rage but a movement of angry emotion. This is why politics and religion are so emotional. We very often have unexamined feelings and emotions surrounding these topics, and some of these beliefs aren’t even ours! Some of our beliefs are what other people told us to believe and anyone challenging anything that you yourself haven’t examined to be your truth feels pretty bad. Believe me. On the other side, anytime anyone wants to challenge something that I know to be truth, I don’t feel the need to get upset. I let stillness do the responding for me as stillness is the byproduct of peace. Even though it’s the absence of movement, it’s a movement in it’s own right. Peace allows hostility to go by without further adding to the hostility. Peace can only be had if one examines themselves and their beliefs.
This may seem like a whole lot to some people, the chain of events that two books arriving from a thrift book site can set off, but that is how life actually unfolds before us when we pay attention. Something seemingly small occurs and we are in the moment enough to pay attention. Sometimes we are going too fast and miss it. We miss the small clue or sign that propels you into your next voyage. Lucky for us they will keep coming, so at any time one chooses to start paying attention, a clue will be awaiting you. Your next level of understanding when it comes to this existence can be right in the next moment if you chose. But what we can’t see…we can’t enjoy. For the past three years, I’ve made the conscious choice to simplify my entire way of life just so I can follow where these seemingly little clues want to lead me. So far they’ve led me to the stables and equestrian life of my dreams, and into one of the happiest marriages on earth. I don’t follow them all the time, and sometimes I miss them because I’m going too fast, but now I’m aware enough to know when I have missed these gems, and I can then make a resolution to do better.
This is really all that is asked of us…to try.
It’s been an incredible journey and even my hardest most rough day is nowhere near as emotionally catastrophic as things use to seem to me. I am diligent about what I feed my spirit, and for me personally, this alone has changed how I physically feel. The change in me, and in my family structure as a whole, is definitely palpable at the time of this post. I’m pretty dedicated to self-improvement, zeroing in more on the balance of self-care and responsibility, and definitely polishing my skills and talents. I can’t ask Dylan or even Michael to do any of this if I am unwilling to do it. Who knew that the smell of an old book published in 1936 could have such an influence over my thought process?
These days I’m more interested in how my personal thoughts reflect in my habits and how those habits create my character and how my character influences my reality that I am in any reality show. One is more connected to my financial and family security than the other. Books from 1936 help me to remember that when I feel a bout of self-sabotage coming on. The other thing that helps is my desire for my family to be the healthiest three people that we can be and be lighthouses in a stormy climate so that others who feel a little lost know that we are here. We know what it feels like to want to change everything because the current reality no longer serves us. We’ve changed some personal challenges into lessons that we’ve grown from to be better, not bitter. The human ability to change once the mind is made up, that belief in yourself in conjunction with the desire to cultivate a magnificent life is within reach for everyone. It just comes down to choosing if you want to grow into your best self. When my son smells the inside of an antique book, I hope that he instantly knows all of this.