book review: the smell of rain on dust11 Aug 2021
What are the main ideas?
- “grief is what living beings experience when what or whom they love dies or disappears.”
- “grief is not what people feel when they lose what they want, or lose what theyw ant to happen, or when they don’t get what they think they deserve. this is only disappointment. not the same at all.” note, this is different from and in some ways oppositional to how francis weller frames different types of grief. and also in tension with how lama rod owens talks about the need to grieve everything.
- grief is not an emotion. it can incorporate any and all emotions (including sadness and joy).
- grief and praise are intimately interwoven. “grief and praise are rents whose landlord is love.” when one loses something, grieving it will necessarily lead to praising it for it was.
- grief is active. it is not to be confused with depression. in fact, depression is what comes when grief is stifled.
- grief is not a solitary experience; it can only be truly experienced in community. ideally, that community is made up of nature as well as humans but if that is not possible, nature alone is a sufficient grief partner.
If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
when grief is present in me, reach out to another human for support. if that isn’t possible, go to the ocean.
How would I describe the book to a friend?
this is a powerful book that explores in the most surprising and gentle of ways exactly what grief is, isn’t, and how to engage it to create more wholeness and humanness. prechtel’s language flows in a way that i have come to appreciate about indigenous writers: anchored in story and non-linear as fuck. as he says in the acknowledgements about the process he went through with his editor, this book is/was “unruly swelling paragraphs whose endless tributary sentences eventually collide into a single river of thought called a book.” once i learned how to release my conditioned way of reading and could step into his flow, i was pushed, bumped, tumbled, sped, and bounced along, deepening in the most joyful of ways, my awareness of the true nature of grief.
reminder: book review structure
words / writing / post-processing
367w / 13min / 4min