Playing Ball on Running Water

Reynolds, David K., Playing Ball on Running Water: the Japanese Way to Building a Better Life. New York: Quill, 1984.

Reason read:

Morita psychotherapy is Japan’s answer to Freud. There are so many different takeaways from Playing Ball on Running Water. How about this: live life. Don’t think about it or talk about it. Just live life. How about that for simple?
Think about this philosophy: you can never step into the same river twice. As you can tell, this short book resonated with me in more ways than I expected. I struggle with procrastination (otherwise known as avoidance) and social anxiety. Reynolds addresses both. On a personal level the strange phenomenon is once I address the issue I had been previously avoiding I am pleasantly surprised at how easy completion turned out to be. Like going to a party for example. I dread the arrival, but on the way home I’ll reflect on the event, and ultimately be pleased with myself that I went. My takeaway is to be as present as possible. Sometimes, paying very close attention and staying focused will clear the mind. A tea ceremony, for example, is set at a very deliberate pace. There is no rushing the event and each moment is well-practice, providing a safe space for familiarity.
The second half of Playing Ball on Running Water is a series of short stories that illustrate the Moritist principles. The entire book is constructed to help the reader play ball on running water.
As an aside – another interesting aspect of awareness is the art of combining different foods to make unusual meals for variety. Would peanut butter and pickle sandwiches count?

Lines I liked, “When our attention is alert to notice what reality has brought to us in this moment and to fit ourselves to it by doing what needs to be done, we are living fully during each of those waking hours” (p 56), “Risk and struggle are essential to life” (p 60), and “…I know that these tactics for playing ball on running water are helpful for the extremely sensitive person” (p 96).

Author fact: Reynolds lived in Japan for awhile and spent time in Zen Buddhist and Tendai Buddhist temples.

Book trivia: Playing Ball on Running Water is less than 180 pages but it took me almost a month to read.

Nancy said: Pearl called Playing Ball on Running Water nontechnical, practical, and compelling.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the presumptuous chapter called “Help Yourself” (p 109).


Apollo: the epic journey

Reynolds, David West. Apollo: the Epic Journey to the Moon. New York: Harcourt, 2002.

David West Reynolds cornered the Apollo market when he was able to get two former astronauts and a Smithsonian Air and Space Museum curator to contribute to his historical look at the race for space. In addition he used amazing photographs! Reynolds carefully outlines the humble beginnings of man’s desire to launch into space, giving credit to Jules Verne as the man responsible for sparking the imagination of men who dared to dream the impossible. The frantic competition was heightened after John F. Kennedy was elected president and he promised American citizens we would reach the moon by 1970. Kennedy’s subsequent assassination was the driving force to make that promise a reality. Reynolds states the entire nation was held responsible for Kennedy’s dream.
But, this is a gorgeous book, filled with interesting facts and photographs taken from beginning to end; from the Mercury and Sputnik to Apollo and Vostok missions.

Best lines, “…liquid fuel would be the way to get a rocket anywhere interesting” (p 19) and “They had stepped out into the void” (p 105). How dramatic is that? Final like I liked, “It was time for the human pilot to prove his worth” (p 136).

Reason read: The first lunar walk was on July 20th, 1969.

Author fact: David West Reynolds is an expert in space exploration.

Book trivia: Apollo: the Epic Journey is such a spectacular book with stunning photography it could be considered a “coffee table book.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Moon’s My Destination” (p 157).