"compassion is not a pizza with eight slices"
I obtained Rising Strong (The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution) by Brené Brown through the LibraryThing early reader giveaway. I hadn’t heard of the author before but then noticed when I received the book someone quoting her on social media. I have forgotten the quote now but by my first sitting with the book, I had a quote I really liked as well that fit a context of something that was bothering me. It was when Cecil the lion was killed in Africa by the American big-game hunter dentist and there such an expression of mortification by so many people. In fact, it made me very sad myself. But there was also this backlash in social media against all the public outrage for Cecil, in the context of where was the social outrage for other horrible things that were happening such as the Ferguson-esque racial profiling and shootings, the Syrian refuge crisis, global natural disasters, and global natural disasters, etc. And that quote was: “compassion is not a pizza with eight slices.”
Whew, what relief to read that. It was how I felt! Yes, all these pressing social issues deserve some attention, but oh my – how exhausting and endlessly frustrating focusing on all the world’s problems can be! And if I can myself muster enough energy to do one good thing to confront a problem, even if it is only publically acknowledging an injustice– please don’t hate on me because I failed to mention so many others. I empathize with a lot more than I say.
This was not the only good part of the book for me, though. It got better. This book is about shame, feelings of doubt, problems that get under our skin that stem perhaps from our own emotions about ourselves and how we work through those issues (which I suppose amount to sensations of failure) and become better human beings as we rise stronger because of these experiences.
Another part of the book that caused me to reassess my own feelings was this question that gets at how you look at life: “Do you believe that people are basically doing the best that they can?” You see, how a large sampling of people have answered this question, and ultimately how you answer this question, says a lot about your own personality. Drilling down into why you would answer that question in whatever way you do is a fascinating bit of self-discovery in this book and I don’t want to ruin it by trying to summarize it lightly or reveal its simple power. Suffice it to say, it is worth the read just for that piece, because it made me think throughout the rest of the book.
There are so many good jumping off places for thought in this book – the difference between shame and guilt, how "creativity is," as Steve Jobs once said, "just connecting things," and how “in order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die.”
Another great chapter was the composting chapter, where the author interviews a business advertising executive who talks about failure quicksand and her own experiences with the remaindering process of her first book. From that to millions of people listening to her TED talks! See below for an example – this one is about the importance of vulnerability.