Norman Levine

This guy, Norman Levine, is driving me nuts. I’m reading his book Canada Made Me, published in the mid-1950s. Levine, like Richler, was an Eastern Canadian Jew with literary aspirations who escaped early to London. Levine returned in the mid-50’s for a brief cross-country tour which he wrote about, which became this book. Admittedly, Canada in the 1950’s was a bleak provincial colonial backwater–and that’s what Levine brings out.

I love it and hate it. It’s so well written, so full of Holden Caufieldesque bleakness. So what I aspire to, yet loathe. The extent to which this brings forth my demons cannot be understated. If nothing else, his mastery of tight prose should inspire anyone. His choice to paint (then) Canada in such a jaundiced hue should be celebrated as a symbol of bravery and honesty. But it sure makes us feel bad in 2001, although it shouldn’t. Required reading, if you ask me.

A brief excerpt (describing a Sunday at a northern Ontario mining outpost):

Sunday was just another day.Those who didn’t work on the day shift had chicken for lunch.There was little talk. No hypocrisy. And there was no trust. Everyone locked his door.

Dawn of the New Ed

About 12 years ago I was stuck in a rut, standing there with a piece of paper flapping in my pocket (a BA degree), with no clue as to what I should do–or wanted to do–next. So I found some book (for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called) that helped me map out what I liked, what I didin’t like, what I was likely to succeed at, where my interests lay, etc.Out of that came the famous “five year plan“, which basically starts with envisioning who and where you want to be in five years. The plan worked miraculously. It helped me figure out what I wanted, and helped me focus on that. I was able to deflect most distractions and stuff that was not important, or was not bringing me closer to my goals. (Yeah. Goals. For the first time in my life I had real goals.)

OK, that was around 1989, so my five year plan was achieved seven years ago. I built on it for a while, but for the last couple of years I’ve essentially been coasting. Just riding the wave, without thinking about where I really want to be going next.Or, more precisely, coming up blank when I’d think about where I wanted to go next.

This has been scratching at the back of my angst for a while now, but I’m finally doing something about it. I found a new book, “Me, Five Years From Now”, which I hope will be as effective as the last one was.

I highly recommend this approach for people in a rut. It’s a cliche, but if you don’t know where you’re going, you ain’t never gonna get there.

The cool thing about this new book is that you don’t just read advice, you write out your own plan directly into the book. The first part of the plan (for me) is to get healthy. I’m not going to starve myself, but I’m going to make a concious effort to shun crap food, eat more fruit and veg, and get active!

The difference between my saying that today and my saying it last week is that yesterday I went through the process of mapping it out, so it’s now a plan instead of just a vague idea. Once it becomes a plan it’s much easier to follow through.

This plan will grow and will encompass many other things. It’s gonna be good!