We start with a cautionary tale. This article from the New York Times Magazine illustrates the dangers of style over substance when it comes to Zen. Down that path leads madness, or at least silliness, and we don't want to go there.
Which I don't think is to say that all "zen lite™" is useless; sometimes things that look and feel like actual wisdom can be found in unlikely places. For example, take 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk, written by an ad-blogger named Leo. It may not appear to be well-researched or cited, but I sure can take a lot from it: things I have already begun doing and things that I would like to do a lot more of. Or try the section called Buddhism in an Oversimplified Nutshell, from an article on roleplaying games, which seemed to me to be an accessible if epigrammatic introduction to a core concept. Sadaharu Oh's autobiography (which I haven't read) and The Curious Case of Sidd Finch (which I have read) both use the game of baseball as a lens to examine Zen practices. Perhaps calling this stuff wisdom is overstating the case, but I don't think that calling them valuable is.
The world of quantum mechanics also provides some handholds as we make our way toward understanding. This video compilation of different remarks by the slightly goofy philosopher Robert Anton Wilson breaks down a lot of barriers:
So, that's some of the debris that's floating around in my brain right now. As I come out of the summer days daze and get back to some more structured thinking with the new school year, perhaps I'll be able to make more headway with Walpola Rahula or even bypass the books and go straight to The Platform Sutra or something.