I Started Reading a Book


I’ve spent almost a year away from this blog. I can say it was because I have a toddler who didn’t start sleeping through the night until a few months ago. I can say it was because I make words at a computer for my job, and I don’t have many left over for blogging. I can say it was because I felt exposed and awkward after posting something to this blog before.

All that is true, but the truest reason for this absence was much more complicated. I started this blog with the idea that it would be about self-improvement, about the joys of being an autodidact, about dreams and goals and motivation and the beauty and ethereality and emotions that get us through it all. But shortly after beginning this project, I started reading a book.

As a bibliophile and romantic, I’ve often been swayed by the written word. The assuming and hokey intro of this book I started reading purported to define the soul. I was not yet swayed.

Nevertheless, as I kept reading, I found my inner world interrupted, besieged. Ideas that seemed true as water to me suddenly became hollow. One of them was the idea that self-improvement is a worthwhile activity. This book claimed that my self didn’t need improving and that the whole notion of self-improvement was a ruse used by my inner critic to get me to engage in judgmental warfare.


Byron Brown’s Soul Without Shame is a self-help book. It’s not classy. It’s not high-brow. It’s not low-brow enough to become high-brow kitsch. It’s not even close to the “best” book I’ve read in the last year. It’s just some wisdom, to take or leave. If I’d read it 6 years ago, I may not have made it past the introduction. As it is, I still haven’t even finished the book! I’ve found so much to process in the first half that I keep rereading sections and letting them simmer for weeks at a time. I wouldn’t even recommend this book, necessarily. I think it can be amazingly profound for someone who’s already spent a lot of time thinking about her inner life and/or going to therapy.

Anyway, all that’s to say that I’ve spent this year breaking up with some of my idea commitments and forming new ones. I’m not exactly sure what I have to share with you anymore, but I still vehemently believe that writing makes for better thoughts. So maybe I’ll do some writing here and see what happens.

Today, I’ll leave you with this: an essay from a guy who left the internet for a year and returned today, full of wisdom and regrets.


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