By Robert Downes
Consider the following quote and how it might apply to your own life:
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe. -- John Muir.
That bit of wisdom by the legendary California naturalist is one of the quotes in Matt Sutherlands new book, Go Seek: Journaling to Spiritual Fulfillment. The idea is to think about what Muir said about the interconnectedness of the universe and write out your own thoughts on several blank journal pages that follow the quote.
To aid you in that endeavor, Sutherland also includes some thoughts on how physicist Albert Einstein viewed the connections between all elements of the universe, be it energy, matter, space or time.
Spiritual stuff? Thats what Sutherland, 46, is hoping readers and journal writers will get out of his project, which has been published by Spirituality & Health Books, a firm launched by himself and his wife, Victoria, who is also the guiding light behind ForeWord Magazine in Traverse City.
Speaking of ideas being hitched to everything in the universe, over the past few years, the Sutherlands have been delving more into the mind/body/health connection for their publishing effort. As an editor who reviews hundreds of books each year for ForeWord, that process planted the seed for Go Seek:.
The journal came about because as I started to read more about the mind, body and health side of spirituality, I began to collect quotes through the years, Sutherland says. And I thought it would be good to identify these thinkers, from Einstein to Buddha and Yogananda, while allowing readers to respond with their own thoughts in a journal.
Thus, Sutherland has created a 200-page book which allows for eight weeks of journaling via 56 assignments based on the thoughts of seekers ranging from T.S. Eliot to Jim Harrison, Walt Whitman, Ani Tenzin Palmo, Abraham Maslow, Goethe, the Bhagavad Gita, Oscar Wilde, Edward Abbey and many others.
The book includes more than 50 philosophers, thinkers and theologians from all walks of life, he says. He adds that each week introduces a new theme to write about, including Nature, Daily Practice, True Self, Misfortune & Suffering, Compassion, Truth Seeking, Synchronicity, and Gratitude.
THE WRITING GAME
Sutherland is no stranger to the writing game. As an editor, he has spent the past 12 years assisting in the review of some 80 books per month for ForeWord Magazine, which presents the work of independent publishers.
He has ghostwritten approximately 15 books through the years, and produced a cookbook several years ago called Savor Michigan, profiling the states top 25 restaurants. Additionally, he worked with his investor brother, Paul, on last years Zenvesting. More recently, hes been part of the Spirituality & Health Books team that published Bob Butzs new book, Going Out Green along with Kitchen Alchemy by a writer from Wales, and the new The Cooks House Cookbook.
Needless to say, Sutherland is on top of publishing trends, which is part of the reason hes created Go Seek: as a print-on-demand book. Rather than being available at bookstores (which tends to involve the nightmare of national distribution), Sutherlands $11.95 book can be ordered through www.spiritualityhealth.com/books, www.amazon.com, or www.lulu.com (a website for authors and small publishers). At lulu.com, the book can be ordered with a choice of six different covers.
Print-on-demand allows small publishers to fulfill orders without having 1,000 undistributed books in their garage, Sutherland notes. Along with ebook publishing, its a new direction for the industry.
Sutherland says that journal writing is a healthful resolution for the new year.
Theres something really spiritual about writing and seeing your words on paper to take you someplace different, he says. I know a handful of writers who said it took them out of depression after weeks and weeks of writing out their thoughts.
Its his hope that the wisdom of the worlds great thinkers and writers expressed in Go Seek: will be a catalyst, providing an inspiring line of thought that journal writers can slip into for a ride to self-revelation.
Its a way to do something healthy for your New Years resolution, he says. Its a way to encourage thinking about healthy practices, such as taking up yoga, going to the gym, eating less meat, or walking 45 minutes each day. When you write for 20 minutes each day, it also encourages you to think about healthful changes for your life.