What’s something you’ve read recently?
“The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. Cutler follows the Dalai Lama around and the Dalai Lama kind of explains to him — not the secret, but the keys to happiness, and how people can know themselves.”
Was there a part that struck you as applicable to your own life?
“Meditation. I didn’t really know much about it until I started reading about it. It’s like in The Tao of Wu, by RZA. He was talking a lot about meditation in art and music and everyday life. Saying things like, ‘If you have time to be on your phone, you have time to meditate.’”
Tell me about The Tao of Wu.
“The writer is actually a musician. He’s a rapper; he was in a group called the Wu Tang Clan. He just kind of explains his struggles and how he overcame them and things he does in his daily life nowadays. There’s a point where he talks about being here in the present moment, just slowing down and breathing and understanding where you’re at and why you’re there and the things that you’re doing now and how they affect who you become.”
You mentioned being on your phone. Do you find what he says applicable, touching on the way everybody is on their electronic devices and it separates them…
“…from reality. Exactly.”
What book has been most life-changing for you?
“That one, actually. It’s what got me into Buddhism and breathing and everything. At that point in my life, I was going through a big shift. My aunt passed away, and that was a life-changing experience. And a few months before that, one of my good friends passed away, too. And The Tao of Wu led me to The Art of Happiness.”
Do you have a favorite author?
“Don Miguel Ruiz. He wrote The Four Agreements. It’s a similar concept, about being here in the moment and understanding why things happen, and understanding that you can’t control everything, and that not everybody in your life is good for you, and how to detach from things that you may feel like you need.”
Is there a thing he helped you detach from?
That’s a big one for all of us.
“A lot of people nowadays, they don’t understand the meaning of love. I mean, they have their own idea of love. And some people feel like they need someone in order to be happy. So they go looking for this, not understanding that it’s within you — if that makes sense. It’s pretty much about life and keys to understanding the depth of certain things, the simplest things, and how it all relates to one thing.”
Do you have people you talk to about books?
“Yes. One of my friends who got me into reading is actually going to school for writing. She got me into realistic fiction books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. There was actually a movie made from it.”
What’s that one about?
“A lot of people would say that it’s just the story of a hipster kid and how he goes through a lot and you kind of just see it all happen, and then towards the end you start to understand the way the book begins. But I feel like it’s a little bit more than that.”
Something with layers, one thing on top of another?
“Exactly. There’s definitely a psychological element.”
Quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower: “So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
Name: Neeah Eribez | Age: 20 | Occupation: Artist | Neighborhood: National City | Where interviewed: Barnes & Noble, Hazard Center