With projects popping up and fizzing out almost daily (a big translation job just vanished, leaving me in the red for the winter) and stress levels rising, I decided to take a stress-free two-days, putting some order on my bookshelves.
My books have a tendency to accumulate like driftwood on a beach.
There’s the big tome on the occult I had to check for a RE:CON job, that’s now sitting on top of The Colonial Wars Sourcebook and India: A Cultural Atlas I used for some bits in Hope & Glory. That’s why all three books are bundled with the Savage World Deluxe handbook, and occupy a chair together with a stack of hardback novels, Chambers’ London Gazetteer and The Starflight Handbook.
And what of the cobweb-wrapped pile of volumes on the window-sill in the corridor upstairs, which includes a book on grave-robbing, a high-school textbook on earth sciences and The Time-traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England?
So I sat with a carafe of cold tea, and I started separating the books into more rational stacks, and then to place them on their shelves.
This experiment in domestic archaeology led to the unhearting of a cache of books on Taoism, including Barefoot Doctor’s The Invincibility Training.
Now this is weird.
I was pretty sure I had given this as a gift to a former girlfriend.
And yet here it is in all its big-format paperback glory, a little worse for wear and filled with bookmarks and post-it notes. So I was right, and she had really used it.
This discovery led me down memory lane for a brief moment, but then I got sidetracked by less romantic thoughts.
My opinion of Stephen Russel’s (alias Barefoot Doctor’s) books is generally positive, as far as self-help goes. Some of them, especially the earlier ones, are very good (The Handbook for the Urban Warrior is a snappy read) some of them less so, but all in all his writing style is engaging, and there is always a grain of skewed wisdom in there. I do not care for the pseudo-science or his recent disco-friendly spirituality, but I can still enjoy the Doctor’s best bits.
Now, The Invincibility Training, from 2005, for all its bombastic presentation (Total Transformation in 3 days!), is probably his last good one, a solid, intensive program for detoxing over a weekend.
The idea is to go offline, isolate ourselves from the outside world, and do a series of exercises while eating clean.
Sounds like a no-brainer.
And also, as the sort of thing one might try and do in August, as Italy slowly curls up and dies for four to five weeks – shops and offices closed, no work, no activity, only the leaden boredom of forced amusement as beaches and tourist spots become crowded.
I still have a lot of misgivings about that total transformation bit.
I do not want to be completely transformed! I am fine as I am, thank you very much.
But the idea of going completely offline for three days, put my writing and translating and job-hunting on hold, and just try to get my mind back at ease and what’s left of my body in working gear sounds interesting.
I’ll keep you posted.