I am continuing down the path of reading 50 books in 2020. I really loved all three of these. One is for Star Trek fans only. The other two are must reads for everyone. I also have a bonus book for you at the end that I didn’t include in the 50 because it’s so short.
Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday
“You’re a human being. Not a human doing.”
I’m not rich but I have more than my parents ever did, more than I thought I would ever have. I have an amazing wife and three adorable boys. I live in a house I always thought was beyond a welfare kid’s grasp. I have multiple successful businesses. Most of all, I have stability. I achieved none of these things through handouts, favors, talent or genius. It all came through extreme hard work. That’s why I tell you my story here. I’m not bragging. I want to be an example because I think, I know, you too are capable of rising from shit.
But now I face a new problem – fear. Anyone who has ever risen from shit to have gained something, anything, has a deep fear of losing it all, to falling back into the shit. So the hard work never stops. We throw gasoline on the fire. We go until there is an explosion. We go until we collapse, literally. Until our blood pressure is so high that it’s the hard work itself, what gained it all, that becomes what could lose it all, maybe even life itself.
This book is the antidote. Holiday lays out in detail what happens to our minds, spirits and bodies when we don’t seek stillness in our lives. He looks at the lives of stoic philosophers, Jesus, Mr Rogers, Ann Frank, Winston Churchill and many others to tell us what we can do right. He gives us tactics to avoid the ever constant interruption of today’s social world. He tells us how to change our lives, something I desperately need to do right now. Be alone, read, sleep, meditate, walk, seek a higher power, find a hobby, just stop moving.
If you already have a chill mode and you don’t find your blood pressure rising throughout the day, then maybe this book isn’t for you. But if you are like me, this book is exactly what you need at this exact moment.
Lastly, this book is one of a trilogy from Ryan Holiday which includes “The Obstacle Is The Way” and “Ego Is The Enemy.” I adore all three and highly recommend them to you.
Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“We are all going to die. And at some point or another you are practically forced to contemplate your life and question who you are and the meaning in this journey of life, your life.”
I came across this book at exactly the right time as I crossed over the forty mark. I’m not having a midlife crisis. I am, however, asking more questions about life than I’ve ever asked. These questions Kabat-Zinn callls “terrifying aspects of the human psyche.” The answers are hard to find in this fast paced world where our attention is pulled in a hundred different directions at any, or every, given moment.
This book isn’t just about how to meditate. It’s about slowing down and being in every moment. It’s about giving one thing our attention. Yesterday a client came to town and eight of us sat in a conference room for hours. Typically I would be listening to the meeting while on my laptop and also constantly checking my phone. Yesterday I tried so hard to put the phone and the computer down and just be in the meeting. It was so so hard. And truthfully, I failed. But there was an hour span when I succeeded. I was proud of myself. Now I must build on that hour and spread it across my entire life, most especially when I’m with my family. In recent days I’ve just put my phone in the other room. The constant bombardment of texts can wait.
I can’t say I enjoyed this book. I can say that I desperately needed this book. This one is a game changer for me. It was a wake up call. I don’t know where those last forty years went. It all happened way too fast. I’m going to slow it down so that I can enjoy more individual moments over the next forty years. I recommend this book to everyone.
Star Trek: Picard, The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack
“A mindset so rigidly formed that it cannot be changed is a terrible thing,” Admiral Picard writes in his log almost as if he just viewed Facebook in 2020.
If there were any doubt that Star Trek has become political commentary on today’s world, that doubt can be erased. Since it’s debut, Star Trek has always commented on today’s real world political environment through stories in space with other species. The change is that this entire show, and especially this book, is one big political warning after Donald Trump was elected President and the UK left the EU.
This is the story of a people who decide to shut themselves off to others and somewhat become isolationists. This is the story of a person who comes to power through populism when politicians ignore flyover states (I mean small worlds) and blue collar workers (I mean farmers and ship builders) and topples the current belief system. And unfortunately this is the story of a beloved legend whose ego gets so big that he runs away disillusioned instead of staying in the fight.
Maybe this is a good point in my review to throw out a disclaimer. I am a Republican political consultant. Star Trek has often been my escape from the stress of politics. Now it seems Star Trek is politics. I throw out this disclaimer to say to my conservative friends, do not worry. This book isn’t an attack on conservatives. It lays out the arguments for both sides.
Aside from the politics, numerous questions were answered and the backgrounds of new characters were given. We learn why Raffi is so enraged, of Elnor’s background and even what happened to Worf, Geordi, Beverly and Spock. We learn why Picard left the Enterprise, how the dynamics with the Romulans unfolded and what led up to Picard leaving Starfleet. Most important, we learn a lot about the synths, how and why they were built.
I loved this book and could not put it down for two days. It is required reading for anyone watching Star Trek: Picard. It fills in all the gaps beautifully and opens up a can of new theories. Star Trek fans, read this book now.
BONUS: The Way Of The Iceman by Wim Hof and Korman De Jong
After purchasing the Wim Hof Method ten week program and three failed attempts at completing it, I’m going back in with full commitment. I love Wim Hof and believe everything he preaches. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to complete his program because my IRONMAN training schedule in 2018 and 2019 kept getting in the way. 2020 will be different. Ten weeks from now I’ll tell you how completing the program feels. For now I’ll just tell you that I feel awesome every time I do his breath techniques and cold water therapy.
If you want to know more and you are a Netflix subscriber (who isn’t?) watch episode 2 of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lap. You can also pick up this book. I finished it again this weekend. It’s more like a long pamphlet. It’s so short that I won’t count it in my #50booksin2020.
If you’ve done any of his training or completed the Wim Hof Method course, let me know below. I would love to hear your feedback.