Coming to an Agreement?

The first book I bought to “stream” through the Kindle — a lovely gift, and I’m happy to report my coming to terms with the present (otherwise still resisting, putting up a fight) — was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book, published in 1997, advocates personal freedom from the limitations we have created, sometimes unknowingly and sometimes unwillingly, for ourselves.



The book is quasi cultish. It precedes The Secret (2006) by Rhonda Byrne, which proved itself to create a worldwide obsession, which may or may not survive today. It was running neck-and-neck with the Scientology type of crazy.

Of course, Oprah Winfrey adored both and probably gave a copy to everyone in her audience at one point.

I’ll repeat: The book is quasi cultish, but it’s not nonsensical, because it is heavier on the motivational side with peppered spiritualism. The positivee and meditative qualities have been needed. Compared to The Secret, the pages of the latter smelled less of manure. Ya know, bullshit.

(The Kindle smells like plastic.)

Why it took so long to get the book is beyond me. For years, time was spend pondering its purchase. It’d be one of those book deals — buy one and get one half the price, buy two and get the third free — Borders would boast to have its customers spend more money. The now-defunct retailer is probably contemplating its notoriously high prices.

The first chapter “Domestication and the Dream of the Planet” did catch my attention, and the first paragraph is to thank.

What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake.

Actually, Ruiz is wrong. While reading the passage, the brain is actually interpreting the words and messages on the page, err screen. Perhaps when the paperback or device is lowered the brain goes in to daydream mode, but not at the moment of literary indulgence.

It is compelling to think about. To actually believe reality is a dream my result in catastrophic consequences. In R.E.M., it’s possible to wake up before hitting the ground. Do you really “wake up” before hitting the ground while awake? I prefer not to find out.

….we start pretending to be what we are not, just to please others, just to be good enough for someone else.

Those kinds of passages are lovely slaps to the face.

The book itself is an easy, quick read. I blew through it in a little over an hour. It’s difficult to resist continuing: How all reading should be.

… humans resist life. To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. … In your whole life nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself.


It goes to show, when you really think about your own life, not what others are doing, we are truly our own worst enemies. Blaming others for whatever reason, obsessing over some little thing a person said and external aspects that cannot be “controlled” — time management is a great example, minutes pass and we have no say  — is absolutely counter productive.

Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are. … A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself. Everything you feel or believe or say that goes against yourself is a sin. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything.

Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their won dream, in their own mind … When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.

There really was no point in hanging out in Borders, scanning the walls for paperbacks and music not really needed. Plus it was back in the time where Carousel Center was not Destiny USA. MTV was still cool, but it was the teetering on the beginning stages of changing its attitude, straying from the ’90s grunge, punk and indie attitudes for flashy and gaudy sadness.

It was before I understood the beauty of Downtown Syracuse and what it had to offer. After Happy Endings closed, the only reason to go down there was for work and hit up The Sound Garden.

Aside the walls of cathedrals, cemeteries and historic places — let’s say mansions and, well, libraries — I’ve never felt as comfortable. That dream state is absolutely recognizable in those moments when taking in something difficult to comprehend, something so mentally massive.

I guess, to personify it, the book found me: “Hey, it’s time to give me a read … instead of picking me up, carrying me around while you look at music, movies and debate on whether buying me is a good idea or not.”

When you transform your whole dream, magic just happens in your life. … When you do your best you learn to accept yourself. But you have to be aware and learn from your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results and keep practicing. This increases your awareness.

Sometimes it is difficult to accept change, but it’s welcomed in an odd and awkward fashion at the same time. It’s as if you’re holding the door open for someone and they reek for some unknown reason. They’re still going to pass by, and you may stand in back of them in line; however, your gag reflexes better not give up.

So, Self, we do have an agreement: Stop procrastinating and get with the program, but don’t exclude those opportunities for pure daydreaming.

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