Tag Archive for 'books'

The Top Ten of just about everything

P1000481There is a beautiful little city called Bergen on the West coast of Norway. And nearby you’ll find the world-famous fjords. A majestic sight. These fjords are one of my Top Ten places on the planet. And why would I state that they’re in my Top Ten? Because I recently made a few lists, and the Top Ten places was just one of them.

I just had a birthday. Yes, I had a great day, thank you for asking. And as it does for so many of us, it got me thinking about what I’ve experienced in my life thus far; and also what I want to experience up ahead. So in terms of the former, I started to compile a few of my lists of favourite things. Yeah I know, there’s nothing new to this, and I’m sure that lots of you have done it before. But just in case you haven’t, can I recommend it to you with chocolate coating on top?

Here are some of mine so far. I decided to not place them in order of priority in each of the lists. I began to do that, and then realised that the order adjusts according to a whole range of things eg my mood at the time; the context for the memory. So here we go:


Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

Stairway To Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

Ave Maria (Sarah Brightman)

Reminiscing (The Little River Band)

What A Wonderful World (Louie Armstrong)

Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy)

Imagine (John Lennon)

Cavatina (Paul Potts)

Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison)

Hey Jude (The Beatles)


The Shawshank Redemption

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Mary Poppins (well, it sure was when I was 6 yrs old)

The Sound Of Music

Dead Poet’s Society

A Few Good Men

Star Wars

The Piano


Schindlers’s List


1. You.

BOOKS (from the ones on my shelves right now; although I suspect that I’ll need to keep reworking this list)

Awareness (Anthony de Mello)

The Time Travellers Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)

The Shipping News (Annie Proulx)

Life Of Pi (Yann Martel)

A New Earth (Eckhart Tolle)

Cloudstreet (Tim Winton)

Long Walk To Freedom (Nelson Mandela)

My Uncle Oswald (Roald Dahl)

Scented Gardens For The Blind (Janet Frame)

Resilience (Anne Deveson)

Favourite (or sometimes not so favourite) Lessons In Life.

Every time a child corrects me on my knowledge about a topic; and they’re correct

That I usually accomplish more when I slow down

Anything that makes me go Aha!

When I baulk at doing something, and then later realise that I probably could have done it. But by then it’s too late!

When I regret wasting a day on something; and then later realise that I needed to go through that experience to get to where I am now

When someone criticises my work, and it challenges me to develop much more effective improvements than any praise could ever have done

That everyone I meet has lots of amazing knowledge; and that it’s sometimes up to me to encourage it out of them

Unless I push myself with my learning, I begin to do the same ol’ same ol’; and yet don’t even realise it

When I just stop for a minute and realise how damn lucky I am with my life

Suddenly realising out of the blue that this moment is the one that counts the most in my life


My front veranda (when savouring life with friends)

Macchu Picchu in Peru

The Amalfi Coast south of Sorrento in Italy

The Fjords near Bergen in Norway

Muir Wood near San Francisco

The Great Wall of China

Just about anywhere in New Zealand (the top of the Franz Josef Glacier, or the Queenstown lookout, if I had to pick two)

Venice at dusk

Blarney Castle in Ireland

Uluru at sunrise


What does it mean to really LIVE?? To dance as though nobody’s watching (or maybe, as though everyone’s watching, for that matter??)

I mention this for a very direct reason. The great teachers / facilitators are those who have tasted the joy of life, and have the capacity to somehow share it with others.

I’ve watched several superb teachers in action over the past week or so, and while they each had specific characteristics that contributed to their efforts, they all had one thing in common: Each had a passion for what he / she was offering to the students.

Is it possible to somehow discover this deep passion during the course of your life, or are you perhaps born with it?? You can read thousands of books / articles / blogs about this concept, though it probably comes down to this: It’s what YOU choose to do in the everyday moments of your life.

I love books that challenge me to fully experience this joy of life. These texts do it for me. My shelves are full of them (including one that was written in 1692!).

And out of all of them, here is one of my all-time favourites. And I’ve even read it twice. For someone as time-poor as me, I can tell you that this is a significant effort.

It’s called Awareness. Written by a Jesuit priest called Anthony De Mello A fascinating character, I assure you. Died back in 1987. Yet his thinking was way beyond that of many people then (or perhaps even now). Especially within the Catholic hierarchy, bless their hearts. They essentially banned him, and I can see why. However, he didn’t just challenge only them. He challenged everyone.

In Awareness, he claims that most people are always asleep. They never really wake up to life. They sleep at night, and they sleep during the day.

So how do we wake up? According to de Mello, by developing a profound awareness and understanding of the various aspects of your life.

Just to give you a taste of this guy’s thinking, here are some excerpts from Awareness. Keep in mind that specific quotes such as this will invariably be out of context with the book’s flow of text. However, I still find magic in these words, even when I reread them in isolation.

If you teach some forward-thinking philosophical students, see how they respond to the first quote:

* There’s only one reason you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have.

* When you fight something, you are tied to it forever. As long as you’re fighting it, you are giving it power. You give it as much power as you are using to fight it.

* Negative feelings are in YOU. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy.

* It’s only when you’re afraid of life that you fear death.

* We see things not as they are, but as we are.

Enjoy your week (that’s my comment!!).