It was on fire when I lay down on it – Robert Fulghum

Sometimes it is is refreshing to pick up a book that is not pure fiction but is just a fun read.  That is what I thought when I decided on this book to relax into.  This is a fun read, and they are true stories.  The other thing about this book though is that every single story gives you the opportunity to add your own meaning or to reflect on the happenings in the story in a way that depicts something in your life, past or present.  The book is written as a series of short stories or essay type, just 4 – 6 pages long.  Stories are such good teachers.

Here is an excerpt and an example of one of my favorites to share with clients when we are exploring their own behaviors or outcomes.

“A tabloid newspaper carried the story, stating simply that a small town emergency fire squad was called to a house where smoke was pouring from an upstairs window.  The crew broke in and found a man in a smouldering bed. After the man was rescued and the mattress doused, the obvious question was asked: ‘How did this happen’?

‘I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it’

The story stuck like a burr to my mental socks, and reminded me of a phrase copied into my journal from the dedication of some book: “Quid rides” Mutato nomine, de te fabula marratur’ Latin. From the writings of Horace. Translated: ‘Why do you laugh’? Change the name and the story is told of you.

It was on fire when I lay down on it.

A lot of us could settle for that on our tombstones. A life-story in a sentence. Out of the frying pan and into hot water. I was looking for trouble and got into it as soon as I found it. “

End of excerpt.
I am sure you get the flavour of the stories.

The author, Robert Fulghum has been a minister, bar tender, cowboy, IBM salesman, artist and teacher and he draws on his life experiences in a candid and insightful way.

Not every single story in this book resonated for me personally but most did make me giggle or ponder. The giggle response I noticed was when I recognized some crazy situation described where a person seemingly does crazy, stupid things and makes unfathomable choices that take them far away from where they (say they) want to be, AND I see choices I have made in the past just as crazy.   It is fun and also quite pleasing to notice that I have accepted responsibility for my thinking and choices and seem now to be making less crazy choices!

So, for a light but compelling read that will get you thinking read this book.

I challenge you to read the whole book and not find yourself saying ‘wow, I have done that’ or even ‘wow, I DO that’  Let me know. Please comment and share your thoughts.

In the interests of transparency the link below is an affiliate Amazon link. You can see this book by clicking on the link below.  I only review books that I have personally read and whole heartedly encourage others to read.

Gai Foskett is one of two Master Certified Coaches in New Zealand. Gai specialises in executive leadership coaching.
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