Book of the Month: “A Room Called Earth”

Fake Smile’s virtual book club read for September/October was “A Room Called Earth” by Madeleine Ryan. This book was so inspiring and really opened my mind to different life perspectives. As I was reading it I kept highlighting quotes and flagging pages I liked. For this blog post (in no particular order) I am simply going to list some ofmy favorite lines of the book and or paragraphs that made an impact on me in anyway. Hopefully as you read through they will also inspire you, open your mind, and get you thinking about different ways you can view situations. Stay positive 🙂

1. “I have a funny feeling about tonight and while I don’t want to get my hopes up, I always do, because I’d rather get my hopes up than be down in the dark with doubt.”

2. “It’s the best weather for a party, though, because no matter how much everyone prepares, not one strand of hair is going to remain straightened, and not one armpit is going to be free of sweat. Thighs are going to stick to chairs, and shirts are going to cling to skin, and no one is going to be able to uphold their carefully constructed social facades, which is brilliant. May our collective fakery melt into the humidity and sink into the soil and evaporate into the air. Rest in peace, fakery. Not. Fakery will never rest, Not even in death.”

3. “Or at the very least, we’re expected to become masters at hiding such unfortunate “humanities” behind all manner of makeup, clothing, falsely confident body language, hyaluronic acids, virtual filters, collagen fillers, witty obe-liners, blinding smiles, and carefully selected accessories, because these aren’t seen as positive indicators of the fact of being alive, rather than dead.”

4. “And I’ve noticed that people who focus very intently on their bodies are largely unfulfilled and listless…It’s as if after too much time looking in a mirror, or down a camera lens, they have nothing else to offer or beleive in.”

5. “One time I went to a doctor about some paperwork that I needed for something completely unrelated to anything medical, and she asked me if I was taking prescription medications. I tried to explain to her that I didn’t feel comfortable having my feelings meddled with. She looked over her teeny tiny glasses and insisted that taking medication might help me “deal with difficult feelings” and I said no thank you before sharing with her that feeling weren’t supposed to be “dealt” with, they were supposed to be “felt” with.”

6. “No matter how hard it might be to feel feelings, and to think thoughts, they’re all I have, and they mean a lot to me.”

7. “The problem is that we’re not our things and we aren’t just things. We aren’t demographics, statistics, trends, or the outcomes of last season’s stocktake sale. Nevertheless, we’ve reduced ourselves to that. We’ve given out power over to the material world because it seems more quantifiable and manageable. Our conversations start there and our conclusions about the world end there. The infinite, miraculous, mysterious nature of who and what we are has become a bit tedious.”

8. “Energies and emotions affect physical reality just like sound, and gravity, and electricity, and music, and oxygen do…even if we cannot name or understand them. It doesn’t matter where we’re from, or what we beleive, or what language we speak. Millions of us are feeling the exact same way, right now, and we are unified becasue of it.”

9. “That said, I do get tired of trying to “earn my keep” everywhere I go. Somtimes I just want to be with other people.”

10. “Dad alwas encouraged me to adapt and to do what others expected, and to say please and thank you and hello and goodbye, and to prioritize others’ feelings and preferences over my own. He based his identity on what he “should” and “should not” be doing.”

11. “I feel trapped behind my face.”

12. “I want to choose a different path. A different door. A different box. The blue pill not the red one.”

13. “Dad couldn’t tell the difference between being blamed for something and being responsible for something. Every discussion was about one person being right and the other person being wrong. So if I came to a different conclusions about something, or if I requested he change his behavior in some way, or if I asked him to explain something that he had done, which I didn’t understand, it was always seen as an attack, and a ploy to persecute him. It was never simply a call for change, or a need for softness, or an evolution of the relationhip that we had. It was never learnng or growth. It was war.”

14. “Idleness, or appearing to be lost or alone, or like you’re just reflecting upon something, isn’t valued in social environments. Even standing still for a tad too long or just noticing the fact of existing is considered to be distinctly unproductie and antisocial. It implies that we haven’t been chosen. When we’re busy, we’ve been chosen. Someone or something wants out attention. Being in a state of oversaturation, or overwhelm suggests that we have a tribe, and that we fit in, and that our attention is going toward something outside of us, and that we belong.”

15. “Focusing on our inner world has no social currency. I mean, no one is standing around waiting to congratulate us for stoping to feel how we feel, and to consider what we want, and to question why we choose or behave in certain ways. If anything, our doing this makes others uncomfortable.”

16. “I’ve noticed that when I treat my inner world as sacred, every interaction that I have with the outside world becomes sacred too. How I treat myself is a reflection of how I treat the world and, in turn, how the world treats me. Nevertheless, I make sure to adapt in social situations and to do everything I can to shift myself into a purposeful, energetic, outwardly oriented space, becasue I know it serves the neuroses of the people around me.”

17. “It’s important to acknowledge the process of adapting, too. Otherwise I’d have nothing of my own at all and I’d just become an adaptation. A mindless shadow following everyone else around. So When I acknowledge the choice to adapt, I have consciously chosen a course of action and exercised my great power as a human being: choice. I am choosing this.”

18. “People think that seeing is blaming. They assume that through articulating what’s happening that they’re being judged, and ridiculed, when they’re actually just being seen.”

19. “My parents lived and breathed lies. They mistook them for intimacy. Whenever I’d tell the truth, or say what I was seeing. they’d tell me that I was being too sensitive, or too much, or too melodramatic. That I would doubt myself and what I had seen, and I’d become deluded, after having been deceived.”

20. “He just wants to focus on what’s in front of him. Not out of his control.”

21. “I have a belief that we, like, choose our problems. When I’m considering a challenge, or a change, it’s usually on the back of wanting new problems. Maybe when you reach the point of wanting new problems, you’ll be ready.”

22. “Because I’m supposed to be shy yet chatty, needy yet reserved, bitchy yet unassuming, emotional yet quiet, and above all, the best at everything, across the board, at all times, alway. And I’m supposed to have complete, sovereign, autonomous rule over my life.”

23. “So I must pray on a daily basis that my heart and my body are kept safe, despite the odds, and through it all, always.”

24. “I worry that intimacy and tenderness are becoming impossible ideals, rather than lived experiences. Surviving on this planet right now seems to be more about figuring out how to withstand being violated and exploited than it is about cultivating fulfilling, relationships with ourselves, and with others.”

25. “Now, we’re so preoccupied with all of these visions and fantasies of how our lives are supposed to be, and how our sexual experiences are supposed to be, and how our careers are supposed to be, and how our bodies are supposed to be, that we don’t actually know who we are.”

26. “And unless we take the time to stop and consider that, and what we value, we’re never going to know what we want, or how to say no to what we don’t want.”

27. “It doesn’t help that being overstimulated and distracted has become a social expectation. Cultivating self-knowledge isn’t seen as essential.”

28. “Smiling at or chasing a person can’t change the reality of what a good-bye is or the way that it’s felt for, like, centuries. Eons, even. So let a good-bye be a good-bye, and my life on earth can be whatever it is, too.”some

Resource: Ryan, Madeleine, A Room Called Earth (Penguin Random House, LLC, 2020).

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