Reading Time: 10 minutes
It was indeed a long gap, but I’m finally gathering the courage, maturity, aptitude, intelligence and manners to getting it filled, and embarking once again, upon reason and insight to lead life. I don’t know what took me so long to fill the gap, perhaps, the lure of shinny city lights, dollops of romance for the ephemeral, intimate affairs with ignorance, or a super tasty concoction of everything I must consider lucrative and immediately beneficial. I used to enjoy it for the longest time while growing up, must have spent so many hours with it, learnt so many valuable lessons while being with it, admiring and analyzing it, all alone, in solitude, sometimes lost, but mostly finding myself through the written words of many, who took the noble task of sharing their ideas with the world, in the simplest form – non-verbal, imaginative, enlightening, subtle, exposed to interpretations – reading and learning from books.
Information is undeniably real, it has relevant properties and functions, which influences our patterns of living, and only now, after everything is going digital, we are realizing its potential and possibilities. In the analog world, it wasn’t that hard to visualize its efficacy, but not many were able to, and I think, I fell prey to it. During my growing up years, there was no immediate access to television, but there was immediate access to playing board games and sports, occasionally climbing small trees to pluck mangoes and gooseberry, reading books, getting wet in monsoon rains etc., which seem to have become extinct tasks, even with the immediate next generation. I ain’t sad or critical about it, but the charm which those activities had, is not only nostalgic, but it had certain physical and mentally uplifting characteristics which is not easy to replicate in the current ways of digitalized living. The digital world brings a whole new range of qualities which are sharper, faster, random and can be argued, makes ones mental abilities agile while the physical agility can be purchased by yearly memberships at the gym or a club. Anyway, the point of all these blabber is not to compare one era against another, and feel nostalgic about the previous one, while lamenting about the present one, and like our grandparents, have a long face about how things have gone wrong and how in our times, things were different and better. There’s a whole lot of hogwash to those kind of dramatizations, which I ain’t party too. My point is quiet and quite simple, I recently reacquired my old habit of regular reading, which I’m thrilled about, and simply wanted to jot a few things down and share it, now that I’ve a blog to fill, and a reason to infiltrate everyone’s inbox and WhatsApp groups with a gentle rigor. I find the whole process quite exciting and frankly an avenue to be in touch with you, maybe not literally but literately, which otherwise, is getting very difficult, as friends and families seem to be getting unusually busy with exhaustive activities, which many of them are unable to explain.
I grew up next to a library, a small one, or a “kutti” one, as my Tamil friends would say. It actually was a small room in a flat, which was converted into a library, just two blocks away from my television-free home. My brother and I were members, and I’m simply indebted to my brother amongst many other things, to introduce me to unsullied laughter, via the delightful ploys of Captain Haddock, twins Thomson & Thompson, dog Snowy, professor Calculus, butler Nester, singer Bianca Castafiore and of course, the young and dynamic detective Tintin, amongst the myriad of books at the library. Tintin, was so engaging and comical, it would be hard and insulting to Hergé, not to laugh uproariously, while the rest of the tribe around us were seriously helter-skelter making a living. In some ways, it was actually inappropriate that we were laughing while reading comics, and being inconsiderate to the immediate plights of others nearby us. Of course, we didn’t mean to be impolite or inconsiderate, it was just that we were learning joy and togetherness from a comic book, which although sounds like a silly idea, has proven to be an absolutely benevolent gift of incomparable magnitude in my life, and I owe it to Hergé and everyone else who I can give credit to, including the beautiful people who had the brilliant idea of an active library, in a dense residential neighborhood, where there were only few takers, whose interests were aligned towards books. While most people in the neighborhood were actively renting their extra rooms to paying guests, this particular family, must have changed quite a few lives, surely mine, by renting books instead. I’m eternally grateful to them, and on my next visit to my childhood neighborhood, have intentions of stopping by and seeking out the truth behind such dynamic brilliance.
So, very silently and without fuss, reading became a source of entertainment, staying out of trouble, knowing how to sit alone at one place and be fine with it, enjoying some time with myself etc. and before I could tell, I had started reading novels of various sizes from different authors. The genres kept on changing over the years, but the value derived from the books never faltered or failed me. Reading was a way to bring myself back to me, borrow valuable relevance from others, have a chat with the author, learn and apply a few hints from their lives, adapt to some ideas they were sharing into my life, and I realized it all started making a lot of sense and was actually a powerful and dynamic way to create situations, guide my life, anticipate hurdles, express gratitude and thus come much closer to life. It didn’t feel freaky or unusual to do this, to the contrary, any other way of approaching life, started feeling very long, aloof and many a times helpless, as it would mean I had to reinvent the wheel all alone, not sure of the outcomes, when I could very easily get help from the carefully chosen books I had in the pipeline. It turned out to be a brilliant symbiosis between various authors and myself, and I started making choices with refined clarity and deeper insights as time passed, I supposedly grew, and life started unfolding and offering glamorous opportunities.
America was instantly fascinating, barring the daunting interview with the immigration officer at JFK, to be traveling under a bridge in my brother’s Mitsubishi Mirage, while a huge British Airways Boeing 747, was being taxied and pulled right above us, on the bridge. The tall buildings of Manhattan, the glamor, pace, sales, shopping, corporate opportunities, easy loan accessibility, power to immediately purchase etc. must’ve taken me on a different trip, and although reading was on my mind, it didn’t hold the position I’d given it earlier in life, and I started moving away from it for a long time. Of course, I never gave up the habit, it just wasn’t regular, nor was it used effectively, as I had managed to in the previous dramas of my life, before reaching the American shores. Life started unfolding various crossroads, and I started doing many gigs in corporate America, and enjoying the plethora of activities a fast-paced and accumulating culture with access to excess and instant gratification provides. In hindsight, I could tell, I wasn’t all that sharp amongst the unfolding of various dramas, as I could have been, if I had kept up with regular reading, in the land of opportunities. Life unfolded even more, traveling, partying, marrying, backpacking, yoga, meditation and many more things happened, until one day, after some 12 years of irregular reading, I came across the website Farnam Street Blog (http://fs.blog) where the blogger (Shane Parrish) advocated a habit of reading regularly, by committing to some pages of daily reading, to get into a habit. This opened up a completely new outlook to life, I immediately realized the opportunity cost of having loosened up on one of the most lucrative and creative habit I had developed in the formative and adolescent years, and with immediate intent, along with the daily yoga, I committed to reading 25 pages daily, and slowly realigned my life back, with authors who shared their ideas, from where it was easy to pick up methodologies, to reorient and align my own life, in a systematic and channelized manner.
I don’t consider myself an intellect, nor am I a voracious reader, because, as I explained earlier, I read to bring some guidance and direction to my own life. The act of reading is not so as to read a lot, know a lot or even discuss a lot. I actually am quite quiet and given a chance, would remain quiet and consider silence and observing the breath as a fun activity, which brings joy and connectivity, not the wifi kind, but human kind. In some ways, I could be easily labeled as an introvert, but over the years, I’ve realized the need to be an extrovert too, as life situations demand, and hence have picked up valuable hints from few books and oriented myself to balance between the two “verts” and could now be considered an “ambivert”, with a preference towards introversion, jumping on to extroversion upon provocation, because that’s the requirement of a gregarious society. Reading fine books, recommended by successful people is what I go after. I trust in the wisdom of Seneca and Aurelius and have their books in the pipeline. I am charmed by the wisdom of Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Richard Dawkins, Yuval Harari, Sadhguru, Osho amongst others, and I either read their books or the books they recommend. I don’t fret over how much I read, I instead work upon slowly extracting value from their insights, develop a strategy to keep it meaningful and available for use in my awareness, work upon my levels of alertness through daily yoga, and as and when situation calls for, I experiment and apply those readymade meaningful insights, borrowed from various authors, to provide guidance and direction to my own life and perhaps guide a few other lives. It all looks very cumbersome and convoluted, but once the knack is established, on the basis of a genuine intent to live wisely, it does feel like, this is one of the cleverest way to bring in wisdom and insight into one’s life, and it is really not difficult nor expensive. IMHO, any other way would be much more difficult and certainly more expensive.
It is my opinion that regular reading, on various topics, from trusted sources, enhances our neurological circuitry, challenges it in perceiving reality in a better manner, significantly improves the interconnectivity through a neuronal massage, maintains a healthy and robust brain function and in general, leads to making much wiser life-centric choices and better decision-making capabilities. It exposes us to the work of stalwarts from the past, who had the courage and insight to record their stories in the form of information in books, and to keep it alive for the future generations to make use of. It is in our interest to seek them out, use their time tested wisdom and enhance the quality of our own living in the present. It is my humble observation that “information is real”, it never dies, it floats and just like the genes, keeps propagating through various mediums from one generation to another, which I believe in the modern terminology maybe labeled as “memes”. It is in the interest of the modern man to pick up the hints, mistakes, observations, lessons which the people in the past have recorded, and shared with us, for us to make better decisions and not repeat the mistakes, nor spend energy on reinventing the wheel. It is a simple and wise way to conduct life and I hope, you, the reader agrees with it. I am benefitting hugely with such simple habits and have all intention to keep up with my 25 pages of daily reading to enhance my perception, learn from others, and guide my present life. If you feel alike, do drop me a note and we can correspond, for others, I’m leaving a set of links below, for further exploration on this topic.
Thanks for reading!
How to find time to read:
Book Recommendations by Charlie Munger: