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Lions Roar : May 2013
BY ANDREA MILLER Books in Brief THE TRUE SECRET OF WRITING Connecting Life with Language By Natalie Goldberg Free Press 2013; 256 pp., $25 (cloth) The title of this book is somewhat tongue in cheek. It’s a phrase that Natalie Goldberg has long used when a student is late for one of her writing classes: “Oh, I’m so sorry,” Goldberg likes to tease the tardy individual. “You just missed it—a moment ago I told the students the true secret of writing. I am only able to utter it every five years or so.” In actuality, Goldberg’s stance is that no one possesses the one single true secret of writing and that if you ever meet someone who claims otherwise, you should make a run for it, as all of life is about diversity—nothing is singular. That being said, in this new release Goldberg does offer a fresh practice for writing, and it is rooted in the Zen tradition. A fre- quent contributor to the Shambhala Sun, Goldberg is the author of twelve books spanning fiction, poetry, and memoir, but is best known for her writing guide, Writing Down the Bones, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies. FEARLESS AT WORK Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life’s Demands By Michael Carroll Shambhala Publications 2012; 304 pp., $16.95 (paper) WORK How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day By Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press 2012; 120 pp., $12.95 (paper) Years ago, I taught ESL to children in Korea. Not well suited to working with kids, I dreaded all my classes, but teaching students aged two to four made me feel particularly hopeless. According to the curriculum they were meant to learn colors, numbers, and animals, yet my little charges preferred (quite literally) to run in circles. I remember one low moment when a tiny boy cried in my lap and attempted over and over to tell me something in his native tongue. “I’m sorry,” I kept repeating. “I don’t understand Korean.” Clearly, I was in dire need of these two new titles: Fear- less at Work and Wo r k . Michael Carroll begins his book by asking readers to complete the following sentence with the first word that comes to mind: At work, I want to be... In his experience, most people say, happy, successful, stress-free, effective, fulfilled, or appreciated. Yet—since it’s not actually possible to always be any of these idealized states—what we should really try to cultivate is a sense of confidence no matter what arises. Fearless at Work then lays out the path—rooted in Buddhist thought— for developing this confidence. In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, he emphasizes the importance of right livelihood and teaches that no matter what our profession, it offers us the opportunity to help others and create a happy work environment. I particularly enjoy Nhat Hanh’s final chapter in which he lists thirty practical ways to reduce job-related stress. THE WISDOM OF COMPASSION Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insight By His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan Riverhead Books 2012; 272 pp., $26.95 (cloth) Just out of college in 1972, Victor Chan drove a used VW camper from the Netherlands to Afghanistan. When in Kabul he met a New Yorker named Cheryl Crosby, and they were at a chai shop when they were abducted at gunpoint. By the time they man- aged to escape their kidnappers, the harrowing experience had bonded them, and they left for India together. There, because of some of Crosby’s connections, they were granted an audience with the Dalai Lama, yet Chan managed to blurt out just one SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 87