Educated against all odds

We have a great capacity to distract ourselves, put up barriers and engage in all kinds of self-sabotage. As C.S. Lewis said, “We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

In Tara Westover’s “Educated” (the book that’s been so popular since its February 2018 publication that our 19 print copies are always checked out), the author grapples with the idea of positive liberty, a concept she describes, of “self-mastery – the rule of the self, by the self … to be liberated from irrational fears and beliefs, from addictions, superstitions and all other forms of self-coercion.” It seems that most of us have to contend with the stories we tell ourselves that can keep us from having positive liberty. It’s what keeps me from singing, following a better diet, writing more … but, there’s something to bear in mind for all of us, that, generally, we do the best we can do at any given moment.

Listening to Westover’s memoir evokes many moments that could cause one to gasp, from the mental and physical abuse she suffered, to descriptions of injuries sustained by a variety of family members in a series of accidents that could have been prevented, but “Educated” is a testament to the human spirit’s will to survive, and, in Westover’s case, thrive. For those unfamiliar with the story, the writer charts her journey as a compliant child of a survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho, to the halls of Cambridge where she earned multiple degrees, and onto Harvard, where she was a visiting fellow.

Who couldn’t use a good survivor story? After all, keeping up with the daily routine of life in 2019 can be considered an exercise in survival. With that in mind, we hope you’ll add us to your calendar on Sept. 18 at 10:30 a.m. when we get together to discuss the book that continues to be in high demand.

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