This little book is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read.
There’s a Hula Girl on My Dashboard is a deeply personal memoir of self-discovery, the quest for meaning and for belonging. The author goes from Evangelical Christianity to Secular Humanism, and explores several belief systems, illustrating succinctly yet powerfully the periods in her life where she tried these things on, all the time looking for a final Answer, for a resting place and for security.
This is a book that is ultimately about uncovering the pure spirituality of just being human, of being alive in the moment and reveling in all it has to offer, even-especially!- the simpler pleasures, and one person’s journey to overcome oppression, abuse, and self-doubt, and find peace in that simplicity. I found myself relating to a lot of what the author experienced: disagreeing with religion and feeling like an outcast because of it, the struggle with sexual & gender identity. I related to the searching, the frustration of finding truth in everything but the inability to connect with any ‘method’…to the nihilistic period, and finally coming to embrace ambiguity.
Belief is a very organic thing. There’s no choice- you do or you don’t believe this or that, and both are okay. You can’t actually control what you believe, what you TRULY believe, and thinking you can or should is highly stressful. After all, beliefs about what we cannot truly know are only damaging if they’re poisonous to ourselves or others. A lot of belief systems teach that our very morals must be tied inextricably to some supernatural cause or entity, and if we don’t have the proper beliefs in that cause or entity, we can’t be decent people. Bullshit, really– no matter where you believe they come from, common decency and goodness are also more human (and honestly, more RATIONAL) than many people realize, and Hula Girl does a beautiful job of really illustrating this through various conversions and encounters with kindred spirits.
It is also worth mentioning that the author handles controversial topics in a way that is not at all hostile or condemning, a great feat considering some of her rough experiences. Every feeling with each experience in each chapter is described, the good and the bad, through a subjective lens that does not assume authority and is as unpretentious as it gets. It may sound weird since the author arrives at atheism by the end, but her experiences are told in such a way that it actually helped remind me to be more empathetic rather than judgmental of religion- it shed light on why some people gravitate towards it, a good boatload of them with the purest of intentions, simple desire for order and community, or determination to reform a system they feel a passion for- all beautifully human motives. Throughout this memoir, you really feel what the author is feeling in her spiritual journey- you felt the darkness, you felt the hope, and near the end I was almost in tears (good, very good tears!). It’s at the very least a very feel-good read, that takes you back to the heart of what’s important and says you are enough and you are whole, just as you are.
Please don’t pass this up as a book *only* for atheists or for secular people! While I have never been religious, I do believe heavily in the existence of the supernatural and I (obviously by this point, lol) found this an absolutely worthwhile read! Logospilgrim’s journey through this book really embodies what it is to be human and on the search for self we’re all on, a search that can become tricky, pushing past other’s conceptions of who we should be to find our truth. Our personal truths may be different from person to person, but it’s the questing itself that’s really the heart of this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s ever felt torn apart both inside and out, anyone who’s ever felt isolated in their own personal quest. Anyone who’s ever struggled with religion or self-actualization or feeling shunned or ostracized for simply being true to who they are- which I’m willing to bet is most anyone with a pulse at some point or other. This book is poetic and inspiring and so heartfelt it hurts. Could not put it down from start to finish!!
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