I couldn’t sleep no matter what I did. And I thought I could try and do the unthinkable.
Before that, I exercised, had a hot shower, meditated, gulped two cups of chamomile tea, and counted white sheep. Then I counted more and more. But it takes just one black wolf and its howls to disturb the sound of silence. A sick brain that won’t quit troubling me with either its endless energy or stupid worries.
Why wouldn’t it be quiet? Damn it! Disturbing my sleep, the one thing I love the most. The only time I can take a break from this troubled world. The one time I could wonder and dream. The only time of silence and peace.
I never understood why a lazy person like me, could have such an active and loud brain. It’s as if my brain is an alien parasite trying to take over my own body. There is always a war between the two. And every day the alien parasite invades and forces its way through my body over again. Celine had it right when he said: “There’s no tyrant like a brain.”
So I did the unthinkable. I started reading a book. And I found myself in it. I lost myself in it. I found silence and serenity. I lost the sickness of my mind and the sense of time. And I had a good night’s sleep. I wondered and dreamed.
Who would have thought books are not just tools for “learning” and testing knowledge in a written exam or assignment? Something to please the teacher or the system and get an A. Fool them by presenting rehearsed information from the night or a few nights and days before. But we fool nobody but ourselves.
And who would have thought books are not a chore and can be a great source of entertainment and excitement? That learning for the sake of learning or learning about oneself through the lives of other people, real and fictional, and out of enjoyment can be fun.
“Words weren’t dull, words were things that could make your mind hum. If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you.”
— Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye
I read a lot of books since then, but it all started with one book. I won’t share the name of that first book. It is a secret. My secret. But there is a list of books my future self, recommended I should read. And he insisted I share this list with others.
I can also share with you the secret to learning anything. But It’s not my secret. Everyone knows about it, yet it’s a forgotten and abandoned secret. I know it, you know it, one of the brightest minds in human history knew it. His name was Albert Einstein.
Einstein revealed this secret to his son. The secret to learning anything is studying and learning things that bring pleasure and joy. In his words:
“Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
The secret about this secret lies in its simplicity. Plain, pure joy which causes loss of time, space and matter. Total immersion. Deep focus. Absolute presence and absence.
For me, it all started with one book. A book that sparked my curiosity and I enjoyed reading from its first pages. And this is pretty much my golden rule I use to read anything. Curiosity followed by interest and enjoyment.
Now I am reading a book on a topic I was never interested in before. By Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author I never read his work before. It’s called: “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” A memoir book about long distance running, but it’s also a book full of metaphors and lessons about writing and life.
I can’t rub the smile off my face while reading this book. And now I am intrigued to read the rest of Murakami’s work. His work of fiction in the genre of magic realism, whatever that is. I am dying to learn more about it and find out if I will enjoy it.
And back to my stupid brain that can’t understand why I am having fun reading and learning from a book about long distance running. Maybe that’s the real magic and the real secret.
But the war goes on.