Book Review: The Painted Table

The Painted Table: Honoring Mother--By Not Becoming HerThe Painted Table: Honoring Mother–By Not Becoming Her by Suzanne Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very excellent book. There is a concept in Buddhism that our parents–and all their suffering, talent, etc.–are within us. Whether your father was a workaholic, alcoholic, or fun-loving guy, the seeds of those characteristics are also within you, and if watered and nurtured, will manifest. We cannot simply look at those aspects of our parents that we dislike or even resent and reject them–they are already a part of who we are. It is simply up to us to practice “selective watering”, and choose whether or not we want those things to manifest in our own lives.

The Painted Table follows a girl through her life with a mother whom she never understood and never could get close to for various reasons, and as she grew up, she tried to hide the reality of the situation. It wasn’t until someone very special entered her life to push her boundaries and comfort zone in an encouraging way that she began to accept her past and stop dreading that any similarity to her mother meant she was destined to become her.

The book is written from a Christian perspective, but studying Buddhism myself, the concepts struck home even more clearly. By trying to understand the past and view her mother with compassion, Saffee recognizes what a tortured soul her mother was, which allows her to heal and in some regards, bring peace to her mother as well.

I am quite sure that we all have “painted tables” in our lives, both our own demon(s) and the thing(s) that tortured our parents and have in some way affected us. The question after reading this book is what you will do about it. Do you keep closing the door so you don’t have to look at it? Do you slap on another coat of paint to try to pretty it up like ‘lipstick on a pig’? Or do you delve into it, one small step at a time, analyzing from every angle and asking questions until the puzzle unfolds itself?

This was such an enlightening book, touching, and a very easy, accessible read. I could have devoured it in a weekend if I had not paced myself, reading a chapter or two every morning after meditating. I encourage you to take your time reading it so you can fully absorb it, and when you look inside yourself to find the painted tables in your own life, be sure to look for the positive ones as well as the challenging ones. They may even be connected more closely than you realize.

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~ by MamaWolf on April 17, 2012.

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