Just finished Daniel Smith’s Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety (and no, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve had it on pre-order for two months and then frantically read the entire thing in a day), and three things came to mind:
- It’s not easy to write well about anxiety (see any online mental-health message-board for an illustration of this point) because one of the key characteristics of chronic nervousness is that it messes with your focus, ability to concentrate, finish a thought, complete an anecdote, etc. But Smith is nothing if not a lifelong anxiety connoisseur, and he’s proven with this memoir that there exists within us another self (outside the freaked out, bumbling, cuticle-gnawing self) that is capable of rising out of the gristle and articulating the humor and grace and even elegance in the messy knot we call human life. So: Human > Anxiety. It’s a nice equation that this book proves.
- It blows my mind that the world isn’t 100% Buddhist, because when it comes down to it, there is not a single human being who doesn’t understand that the concept of mindfulness is the central ingredient to understanding (and thus coming to terms with) human suffering. In the book, Smith calls his mindfulness practice and thought watching “cognitive behavioral therapy” because that’s what his therapist called it. I’d probably call it meditation, minus the cushion and the intimidating posture.
- Buy this book, in case I haven’t been clear. Extra bonus points if you buy it from an independent bookstore near you. (Karma points = +500)