The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by German author Jan-Philipp Sendker. It is the second book my book club, From Left to Write, has read for 2012. This novel, about a young woman on a journey to find her missing father, exceeded my expectations and has left me with so much to think about. I read it from cover to cover in essentially one night (I say that because I read about ten pages one night, and was forced to put it down to do "real life" things, like parent; I picked it up the next night and sequestered myself in my room); I could not get enough of the achingly beautiful story. I was excited to see that it made Amazon's list of the best books for February.
My "one little word" for 2012 is simplicity; I am making every effort to weed out the unimportant noise in my life. I was struck, when reading this novel, about how much we don't hear when we aren't really present. Just how much we could experience when we sifted through the distractions. How essential it is to truly be present, and how that skill is something you can acquire, and hone. As with any art, to be a true disciple it takes discipline.
I've made a conscious effort to multi-task less. I do not leave my gmail window open all the time, waiting for emails to intrude on my day (note to my friends: most of the time, you aren't an intrusion....,but I lose focus easily, and emails are a definite distraction!). I do not blog and talk to my daughter about her day at school. I do not stare at Facebook while simultaneously building a tower of mega-blocks with my son.
In the novel, Tin Win's blindness was a gift for him; losing his sight helped to teach him to truly see what was important. I think it was an excellent metaphor for closing my eyes to all the extraneous sights in order to clearly see and hear all the small things I was missing. At the end of the novel, I saw that Julia had come full circle in her search for her father; she was able to understand the value of simplicity and the concept of less is more, and what was truly important. I can relate to that feeling....less is most definitely more.
When Julia travels to Burma to search for her missing lawyer father, she discovers much more than she expected. Join From Left to Write on February 1 as we discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.