These three books changed my life. Just Kids is a soul bearing memoir that steps inside the intimate relationship of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe as they navigate their youth during the 1970’s renaissance of New York’s art scene. It’s beautifully written, inspirational and tragic. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird maps out the very real, very funny and very trying practice of writing. Lastly, the Dalai Lama brings the reader into the fold in The Art of Happiness through his insightful approach to living; reminding us that happiness is found through compassion, openness and giving to others.
“Observing people taking in the work I had watched Robert create was an emotional experience. It had left our private world. It was what I had always wanted for him, but I felt a slight pang of possessiveness sharing it with others. Overriding that feeling was the joy of seeing Robert’s face, suffused with confirmation, as he glimpsed the future he had so resolutely sought and had worked so hard to achieve.”
― Patti Smith, Just Kids
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow an openness with other people. It creates a positive, friendly atmosphere. With that attitude, you can approach a relationship in which you, yourself, initially create the possibility of receiving affection or a positive response from the other person. And with that attitude, even if the other person is unfriendly or doesn’t respond to you in a positive way, then at least you’ve approached the person with a feeling of openness that gives you a certain flexibility and the freedom to change your approach as needed.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness