Feb 112022

When I think of burdens I imagine a long list of daily chores, mundane tasks and must-do’s, too often prioritizing them so regularly it’s just automatic. These nuisances that take time and energy to complete are always there – groceries, laundry, dishes, school lunches – and I always dread them. How can I make them good? By reading Canadian author Christina Crook’s book as a definite starting place.

Being able to attend a virtual reading of Crook’s hosted by my local Pictou Antigonish Regional Library recently, I was hooked to Crook immediately. She captured my attention, her earrings brought me joy and I signed off feeling like I had an action plan I easily put into effect by first buying her book.

Good Burdens is not the full title of her second book. The full title is Good Burdens: How to Live Joyfully in the Digital Age which seemed ironic to me that the reading was virtual but it was also a blessing. With her in Toronto, Ontario and me in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, we bridged the gap and formed the beginning of a relationship I hope will last. Which then proves that technology isn’t so bad after all if we use it purposely, which I did and am now but, don’t always do.

While I jumped in with both feet, just dipping my toe in at her reading, I was quickly at odds with a concept she mentioned. Written during the Covid-19 pandemic, Crook writes that the lock down measures and government mandates have made us realize most of what we have is non-essential. I’m not sure who is right as there are valid arguments for both but, I feel everything is essential (see https://sarahbutland.com/blog/2021/09/21/what-is-essential/). Let me explain… while “things” are not necessarily essential, the people behind them are and if we stopped buying the piece of art we fell in love with or the shirt that fits just right, or yet another book for our shelf though we have dozens or hundreds left to read, who are we and who are those around us?

As an author myself, with many readings cancelled in the past two years, the idea that authors are not essential computes to me as books are not essential, reading is not needed and education is just a hobby. This can be said about any artistry, profession, role.

But I kept reading. I had to. I needed to learn, understand and grow and I feel Good Burdens was like the sunshine to my roots. It is OK to disagree with someone about something and still learn and be friends. I actually think that is crucial, maybe now more than ever. And technology, as mentioned, gives us great advantages if we live with purpose and exist with joy. In this collection of experiences, research, and faith, Good Burdens is just as much a workbook and exercise as it is a book. It is a reprieve, an escape, a fresh look at mental health, community and, as Crook’s first book, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, explains, #JOMO.

Admittedly, this book came to me at a time of deep darkness and let me see some pinpricks of light into an ever changing and demanding world. It is a book that has its readers feel joy and collect joys for further navigation and reflection so we can shift our focus away from the constant pull of scrolling and back to a world where we embrace, connect and love. That’s the world I want to be a part of for sure!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Butland

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