'Start Where You Are' was the first book I read by Pema Chodron. She is, by far, the most influential teacher in my life and I remember that reading this book was like having someone take all these jumbled ideas and thoughts and contemplations in my head and putting them down on paper.
Recently I've found myself re-reading a lot of the Buddhist books I own as I've found a deepening of my understanding means I'm getting whole new levels of insight.
To pick this book up again was amazing because in some ways I felt like I'd not actually read it before, like so many of the words hadn't really sunk in on that first reading five years ago. I know a lot of it probably has to do with my understanding of Buddhism. Whilst Pema writes in an accessible way, regardless of whether you practice Buddhism or not, she does use many Buddhist words and phrases in her work - which don't really make sense without reading or studying classic Dharma texts.
But there was something else about re-reading it that made me feel like I'd simply not had an appreciation before. It was almost like the first reading was giving me a glimpse of the possibilities and on the second reading I could look back and go "Yes! Yes! Yes! All those things!"
It's the difference between liking an idea and grasping is intellectually to actually just knowing and experiencing something first hand.
I love all of Pema's writings and teachings but this book will hold a fond place in my heart simply for being the first. It was the first time someone who wasn't obligated to do so said, "You're fine just the way you are."
It's powerful and very transformative to be told that right now, right here, no matter what is going on, you have everything you need to be a happy, fulfilled human being - because the very nature of your experience is the stuff of waking up and being open to life.