Debut author Skoby offers short, informal insights on living respectfully in the world.
This book’s self-deprecating title doesn’t do justice to its contents. Although the author’s pithy thoughts cover a vast range of topics, few could be considered nonsense; in fact, he explores some of the most vital issues of our time, such as compassion, consumerism, service, and slowing down to really see the world. A slight cheekiness runs through the book, however, as many statements read as provocations, or even as koans, such as “Be careful of those who only see the literal word,” and “Life is full of contradictions….No it isn’t!” Perhaps Skoby’s title is meant to incite doubt in order to open up some space for readers’ own experiences—but this isn’t a difficult or pretentious book. The author uses diverse literary forms to relay his ideas: aphorisms, very short stories, and rhyming and acrostic poems, among others. Some of these phrases could be cross-stitched and hung as quaint samplers: “The fragrance of a flower is beautiful; but the sweetest part is the nectar within. Such is the splendor of a friend.” Others ask readers to stop and reflect: “When I first saw a revolving door, I saw a young man enter, and an elderly man come out. I thought: This is one of the secrets of life!” Still others call for actions: “Teaching my child about mistrust was the most painful injustice of my life. Why must we teach it? Let us stand against it.” There’s a Zen quality to this book, and although the author doesn’t use that or any related term, he does speak of the need for quiet and deliberate observation; for example, one entire page says only: “Silence speaks.” He also broaches the inescapable yet troublesome notion that we all must live among one another: “Your inner conflict, becomes our conflict. This is so, because you live among us.” Spare sketches and drawings by several illustrators, including some that seem to be just a few brush strokes, add to the book’s beauty and apparent simplicity.
A provocative and important collection.