Categories: Arts & Culture

Fixing your head made easy in new book

There are self-help books and there are do-it-yourself books, and somewhere in the middle there’s How to Fix Your Head. It’s actually more of a collection of personal essays in the same realm as the Chicken Soup series, except I wouldn’t touch any of those with a ten-foot spoon. This book is smart, engaging and ever so funny even as it offers insight into all of the things that have gone wrong.

Lesley Choyce has written 70 books and for good reasons: he has lots to say and he knows exactly how to say it. I’m unfamiliar with his work on BookTelevision, or his past careers as a corn farmer, university professor, rehab counsellor, lead guitarist, well digger, freight hauler, or filmmaker. The alluringly titled The Skunk Whisperer apparently was a huge hit at the Maine International Film Festival. Good for him, and good for the reader too because it has given him a fairly broad cross-section of life experiences. As you’d expect, he also has a voice for broad humour.

He writes in the introduction, “I’ve always been interested in things that go wrong in life. The stories about success or good luck strike me as bland. We all develop our own unique methods, however, for dealing with the things that go wrong.”

Examples of those things include everything from car repairs to corrupt dictatorships. Sometimes, he goes on, people just get angry and try to fix things that are wrong with the world using the energy of their anger. Who among us hasn’t tried to get our money back from a vending machine by kicking or rocking it?

“Your experience of living is divisible by two. There are the things that happen physically to you and there are the things that go on in your head. There’s a powerful relationship between one and the other, of course. Yet much of what happens externally you can’t control, while internally, you may be able to fix your head, if it needs fixing.”

Okay, so that wasn’t the funniest thing you’ve ever read but then you get to the part where he yodels into the back of some construction equipment. He also goes into detail about using mind control on insects. It’s ridiculous, for sure, but that’s life.

I love how he writes about things that affect all of us like crummy cars or unsatisfying jobs. He says that it builds character to stick out a job that you don’t like. He uses the example of being a janitor at a nursing home for five years. Every time someone threw up, he showed up with a mop. That was the part he didn’t like. The part he did like was that all of the old people would talk to him and tell him secrets and important stuff that they didn’t tell anybody else.

To Choyce, fixing your head isn’t a matter of just having a better attitude or being happier and more productive with your short time on the planet. It’s about all of those things. Frankly, just reading the book is enough to make you feel better.

How to Fix Your Head

by Lesley Choyce
Poplar Press
149 pages

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.