Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Self Help Books & My Brother, Walt

   I venture to say most reader and writers when thinking about genre,  first consider mystery, memoir, fiction and non-fiction, and give very little thought to Self -help books.   Yet, year after year  Self-help books are often on best-seller lists,  and actually provide what they  claim - inspirational guidance, motivation and help.


   Rudyard Kipling, Marjorie Holmes and Hugh Prather. What do they have in common, you may ask ? Each in their way  were self help writers; They  were also  favorites of my brother, Walt Cooney. From the time my brother was a little boy our mother  read to  him  over and over again Rudyard Kipling's great poem, IF

   If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
      Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,  
   If neither foes or loving friends  can hurt you,
       If all men count with you, but none too much;
   If you can fill the unforgiving minute
      With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
   Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it ,
       And - which is more- you'll be a Man, my son!

   Walt knew this poem well, and when caught in a challenging situation often recounted it to help guide his path, and bolster his spirit.

    In 1974 when I was to take an overseas flight to London with my very dear and  long time friend, Mary Kay , and   was scared beyond measure to fly such a long distance and be away from home for three months,  my brother gave me a book he came across titled, I've Got to Talk to Somebody  God  by Marjorie Holmes.  He inscribed it

     To my sis, Kathy on her 1st trip abroad.  Luv, Walt.  Kathy, read 115 when you're on the airplane. Love you always

       I can  honestly tell you, I read page 115 many times over during that flight, and indeed was greatly comforted . I at times still read it today:

       The Lord is my friend and my companion. How can I ever be lonely so long as he is with me? He walks along a country road with me and opens my senses  to loveliness never noticed before; The glitter of gravel beneath my feet, a tangle of sun-sweet grasses, a dust colored toad - all remarkable and fresh. He accompanies me along the busy street (or flying across the ocean -Walt's words). I am happy and at ease, for my Lord is also there.

    In the early 1980's  when Walt lived in Arizona, working for a carpet company  and was faced with the things of life many young people face, he read  a book that would become one of his favorites , Notes to Myself -  My Struggle to Become a Person by Hugh Prather.  I was unfamiliar with the book then , but knowing how much I enjoyed reading, Walt was excited to share with me  a  particular passage that moved his spirit:

      As I look back on my life, one of the most constant and powerful things I have experienced within myself is the desire to be more than I am at the moment - an unwillingness to let myself remain where I am- a desire to increase the boundaries of myself- a desire to do more, learn more, express more- a desire to grow-improve, accomplish ,expand. I used to interpret this inner push as meaning that there was some one thing out there I wanted to do or be or have. And I have spent too much of my life trying to find it. But now I know that this energy within me is seeking more than the mate or the profession or the religion, more even than pleasure or power or meaning . It is seeking out more of me; or better,  it is, thank God, flushing out more of me.

    My brother was born September 4, 1954. Today would be his 59th birthday. He was a much wanted, and loved baby boy with bright blue eyes, and blond hair. Named after his maternal  grandfather, Walter. Mother wanted Ronald, after our father, for his middle name, but dad didn't much like the  name Ronald at the time, so they settled on Rod, a name starting with the letter R, as in Ronald.  Walt came into this world with high energy and great love of life. By all accounts he was a happy  and good fellow.

    While Walt wasn't a recreational  reader of novels , I doubt many of his friends, or family  knew he was a reader of  Self help,  inspirational, and educational  books,  as he was always looking to grow and improve himself, or share something that might be helpful to someone else, like me .

    I don't know what prompted Marjorie Holmes or Hugh Prather to write, I'm just glad they did.  I didn't know their  books  until my brother shared them  with me all those years ago, books that remain fresh in my memory, books that keep us connected,  even though he's gone from this earth.  That's the power of the written word, and the impact they can have .

*** Info on how to write a  self help book

                                              In Loving Memory
                                               Walter R. Cooney
                                        Sept. 4, 1954 - May 30, 2010       






Jennifer Rova said...

What a wonderful tribute to you brother! Aren't we lucky when we have special people in our lives?

Love Mona said...

Kathy, this is a very loving tribute to your brother. I know from early on you and he were very close and always remained close. That is quite a gift from God and I always admired that. I commend your mother for always keeping the knowledge of God in your home. You and Walt were very well loved!

Anonymous said...

What a kind man and loving brother Walt was. I only knew the little boy but so wished I would have known the man he became. Thank you for helping to fill that void with your writings.


Ana said...

Thank you Kathy for this blog about your brother and how self help books helped him live his life in a more loving and clear way. I write self help books and sometimes I wonder if I am just wasting my time.

Patty said...

One of my favorite Randy Travis songs came to mind today, after reading your that song two lines stand out...."it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you. It's what you leave behind you when you go." I believe Walt left his own unique stamp on all of us.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, what a beautiful tribute to your brother and some keen insight into his character and heart. How much he loved his sister is very evident in his actions and words(even at an early age). I feel blessed that I am allowed to share your treasured memories of Walt. :)

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