Thursday, January 21, 2010

the wishing year—a house, a man, a soul

Over Christmas I read a book written by Noelle Oxenhandler, The Wishing Year (Random House).

She gave a reading at one of my favorite local booksellers—you do support your local independent booksellers don't you?—Many Rivers Books and Tea. Noelle is a professor at nearby Sonoma State University. The Wishing Year is a delightful, satisfying, uplifting story that's been compared to a book I haven't (and probably won't) read: Eat, Pray, Love.

This book takes up the subject of wishing—actively and intentionally hoping for things to happen in your world. A long time Buddhist practitioner like me, I found her story a light and breezy read.

She begins her quest with the same skepticism I would carry. Her Catholic/Jewish heritage permitted her to wish and pray for the welfare of others, but not for anything that would benefit herself in practical ways. But she found her life was getting grayer and grayer under this view, and she decided to open herself to the possibility that the world might permit her more happiness. (She lives, after all, here in earth's best imitiation of paradise!) Noelle decided to experiment with wishing by spending one year intentionally cultivating desire for three things she didn't have and that she really wanted to bring into her life:

1. a man,

2. a house of her own, and

3. spiritual healing.

A work of nonfiction, I was delighted when a neighbor who lives a block south of me, Carol Watanabe, figures prominently in the story as the paragon of effective wishing.

Oxenhandler tells a thoughtful, intelligent, and very entertaining story about how her wishing year unfolded, month by month.


The Pollinatrix said...

I've never heard of this book, but it sounds appealing.

I was just a few minutes ago contemplating the nature of wishing, how it can be like praying or it can be like Monkey Mind, depending on the spirit in which you approach it.

I have to say though, that northern New Mexico is about 15 degrees closer to paradise than the Bay area :)

Being Me said...

Sounds interesting


Sarah Lulu said...

I loved Eat, Pray, Love and I've starting wishing myself only in the last twelve months. I too wouldn't allow myself something like that before.

Hmmm I wonder if that books is available down under ...I'll have a look!!

Sarah Lulu said...

it is!!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Sarah Lulu. Get it. You'll like it, I think.

Dan Gurney said...

Polly, Yeah, I've heard great things about New Mexico. My teacher, Kobun, hung out there too for some time before leaving for Colorado, then Switzerland. There are lots of fantastic places on good old mother earth.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Hi Dan, I, like Polli above, have been pondering what "wishing" means. It seems magical and fairy like, something to be "granted", different from setting an intention or saying a prayer. I wonder if there really is any difference though. Unfortunately, I will not be obtaining the book (though I wish I could!) as I am on a self imposed discipline of obtaining no new books in 2010. Sometimes it's hard, but mostly it feels like freedom. : )