First off, sorry for such a long break since my last posting and I am very happy to report I’m now able and anxious to get back to my writings and, of course, work again on finishing my book.
This past Saturday I spent the entire day moving all my belongings carload by carload into my new studio apartment on the lake. My new job at the same address has been super-eventful too.
Just earlier this evening I was handling emergency phone calls from Evanston Hospital regarding one of our residents who is in his late 70s. Last night we had a 68-year-old deaf resident return to us after almost two solid weeks at Swedish Covenant.
So far, my unpacking has only consisted of underwear, bedding, toiletries and books. I was actually reunited with a bunch of books that have sat idle on my shelves since the last time I moved in 2008. I couldn’t help but open some of them for quick reminder peeks at why I still value them enough to keep them in my extremely space-limited library.
What struck me as funny is when I popped open the one-time bestseller book from 1973 called “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life,” written by renowned time-management consultant Alan Lakein, and saw how he listed as one of “Seven Common Mistakes” the habit of “skimming through material previously relegated to a bottom drawer as not really worth reading.”
He further nailed me with, “Spending two hours on The Wall Street Journal, or trying to make a dent in your pile of unread copies of the Sunday New York Times.”
Lakein’s No. 1 mistake was “indulging yourself.” He explained, “Doing something you really enjoy. Buying a new hat or tie or book. Taking the rest of the day off to play golf. Getting a suntan. Going to the movies. Sleeping. Taking a bath or shower and leisurely grooming yourself.”
His second item was “Socializing. Visiting with others. Lingering on the telephone. Renewing an acquaintance with an old friend. Making small talk every chance you get.”
In this same genre of career advice, I couldn’t help but open up my old paperback from Dale Carnegie (circa 1970) called “How to Enjoy Your Life and Your Job,” in which he wrote, “The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”
Carnegie quoted Owen D. Young, a noted lawyer and one of America’s great business leaders, as once saying: “People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.”
Carnegie observed, “Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person to do something that is only for your benefit and his or her detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.”
Inside my coffee-table sized hardback from 1957 called the “Junior Jewish Encyclopedia,” was a dissertation-style insert I’d forgotten about in which the author wrote, “Rashi Shlomo Itzhaki, better known by his initials, Rashi, holds a unique place in the history of Jewish culture. Neither a lawgiver nor a prophet, neither ruler nor philosopher, he nevertheless exercised a powerful influence upon the thinking and feeling, the expression and mode of living of millions of Jews for some nine hundred years. Rashi stands as a rare example of the power of a teacher to impress himself upon a whole people.
“In Rashi’s writings, as well as in his practices, one finds sublime expression of the value of study and teaching. There is hardly an utterance on this subject, recorded by generations of scholars and pietists who preceded him, which is not quoted directly or indirectly by him.
“Education, or its Hebrew equivalent, Torah, was to Rashi, as to his predecessors, more than a means of imparting knowledge, the training in skills, or even the building of character.
“Education to the Jew has been an integral part of religion itself, constituting one of the three foundations upon which Judaism rests: God, Israel, and Torah. It is this conception of Torah as an essential element of Jewish religious faith and observance that accounted, more than anything else, for the widespread interest in and practice of education among Jews, even in an age of universal illiteracy.”
In another large reference book of mine called “The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes,” I decided to flip to Ben Franklin since Jordan had just mentioned an anecdote related to the colonial statesman this past Sunday.
One particularly succinct anecdote read: “When Franklin was dining out in Paris, one of the other diners posed the question: ‘What condition of man most deserves pity?’ Each guest proposed an example of such a pitiable condition. When Franklin’s turn came, he offered: ‘A lonesome man on a rainy day who does not know how to read.’ ”