The Trauma of Everyday Living by Mark Epstein

I didn’t read this book properly (total lack of concentration at the time), but I did save the following quotes, which I like very much. Especially, “Ah ain’ got no mo ree-sistunce to change than a snow-flake,” So me. So very me. And considering this is the 55th place I’ve lived in, in 4 countries, on 2 continents, you wouldn’t think so. But that’s what trauma and running away get you. I called myself a Buddhist for a while, but although I still practise some stuff, I don’t think I’m a Buddhist anymore.

The Buddha counseled another way. He saw the mind and the heart as one and he used a rather strange phrase to talk about how a realistic view of trauma helps people. It “gladdens their hearts,” he said on many occasions.

“This generation is entangled in a tangle,” began one of the earliest commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings, written many generations ago in Sri Lanka, somewhere around the fifth century of the common era. The “tangle” refers to the way we only want to hear what is “true and pleasant,” the way we refuse what is “disagreeable.” In the Buddha’s time as well as in our own, there was a rush toward some imagined version of normal, an intolerance of the precarious foundation upon which we are perched. It was true thousands of years ago and it remains true to this day. The novelist William Styron once expressed this perfectly. Overheard when he was a young man in Paris drunkenly falling into his oysters and pleading to his friends for relief, Styron gave voice to what for most people remains an unacknowledged whisper in the back of their minds. “Ah ain’ got no mo ree-sistunce to change than a snow-flake,” Styron moaned. “Ah’m goin’ home to the James Rivuh and grow pee-nuts.”8 Styron’s willingness to acknowledge his trauma is unusual—most of us refuse to admit it, even to ourselves, but live in a state of entanglement with it nonetheless.

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