Little did I know when I picked up Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing in April what a rabbit hole it would send me down. I’ve since read two more of her books and two by Stephen Cope, whose books she mentions.
Cope is a director at the Kripalu Institute in western Massachusetts. He writes about yoga and the ancient text the Bhagavad Gita. In The Great Work of your Life, he details part of the Gita about dharma, or one’s work in life, and gives examples both of people throughout history who demonstrated the tenets, as well as case studies in real life.
This is a book about dharma,–about vocations and cllings. It contains many stories of illustrious lives—true stories of lives that many of us already know and admire. It also contains stories of what I have called “ordinary lives”–lives that are in many ways jut like yours and mine.
I found this book similar, but more accessible than, the previous book by him I’d read, The Wisdom of Yoga, which delved more deeply into the esoterica of the Gita. Yet both have galvanized me to take a hard look at my life, what I’m doing (or not) with it, and what deserves my attention, and what should go.
Near the end of the book, Cope quotes Thomas Merton:
We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything else go, we will probably be able to retrain the one thing necessary for us–whatever it may be. If we are too eager to have everything, we will almost certainly miss even the one thing we need.
I was so moved by the quote I’m going to read the original, so my literary journey, begun with Shapiro’s Still Writing, goes on.