Sunday, March 27, 2016

“How To Be Here”

The blurb for a new book is from Chico’s Aaron Rodgers: “Rob Bell has an incredible energy in his writing that is contagious. … Listing all the ways in which Rob has positively impacted my life would take up too much space; so I’ll simply say that he has inspired me to live life with a deeper level of appreciation and to love people with a greater awareness of our connectivity.”

In “How To Be Here” ($25.99 in hardcover from HarperOne; also for Amazon Kindle), Bell, a former pastor and now host of the weekly RobCast podcast (, offers, as the subtitle says, “A Guide To Creating A Life Worth Living.”

He remembers trying to write a book. “The blinking line on that blank page kept blinking, like it was taunting me. There’s a reason it’s called a cursor. We all have a blinking line. Your blinking line is whatever sits in front of you waiting to be brought into existence.”

“The kind of life you lead,” he writes, “what you do with your time, how you spend your energies—it’s all part of how you create your life.” To make his point, Bell uses Biblical stories (focusing especially on Jesus) and contemporary illustrations, all suffused with encouragement and humor, like the reference to his high school neighbor Tad, “the drummer for the band Puddle Slug (they later changed their name to Rusty Kleenex to, you know, appeal to a wider audience)….”

Bell explores (and exposes) the dead ends we find ourselves facing. How do we creatively deal with suffering, rejection, burnout? In nine sections, some with colorful titles like “The Dickie Factor” and “The Exploding Burrito,” the author proposes creating a life shaped by rest (the rhythm of the sabbath) with emphasis on the first step (“we don’t take the first step because we can’t figure out the seventeenth step”). So “start with 1.”

He introduces the Japanese word ikigai, meaning “your vocation, your destiny, your path. Your ikigai is your reason for being.”

“Try that new thing. If it helps clarify your ikigai, if it gets you up in the morning, if it’s good for you and the world, do it.”

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