“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
I think my brain was hardwired to read and love storytelling due to several factors. My mom was an avid reader herself. She has probably read every Tamil classic possible. I was also surrounded by a family (grandpa, grandma, aunts, uncles) that told stories to me and sung lullabies long after I had crossed my childhood days. My family had a lot of differences (like any other family) and a lot of differing viewpoints on life. All of those differences and different views enriched my childhood experience.
My family and childhood teachers encouraged and fostered my love of reading. Even during the financially tough days, my dad always managed to buy me copies of Reader’s Digest from a used book store. My friends loaned me books. My teachers imbibed in me love for both poetry and prose. For all of that, I am eternally grateful.
I have read all my life. I have read almost every day. I have read multiple genres and subjects – history, psychology, philosophy, science, classics, biographies, poetry, religion, spirituality, mythology, thrillers, business, brain, emotions, people and more. My life has been shaped by how much I have read.
Books have shaped my life and life choices. Books have led me to seek education and adventure. Books have taken me to places that I have never been. Books have taken me back in time and taken me to the future. Books have taught me every idea to know, every mistake not to make, every value to uphold. Everything that is to be learnt is already in books.
If I counted all the years of experience that I have “lived” by immersing myself with characters and authors in books, I am a zillion years old. No wonder my friends call me a very old soul. That is because I have lived through the experiences of all the books that I have read.
Books have made me who I am today. I started life as the eldest daughter in a middle class family in South India. I have come so far from where I started. I have travelled the world, lived on two continents, gotten a top class education, worked at Fortune 100 tech companies, climbed mountains and done much more.
Books have made me a life-long learner with a growth mindset. I feel thankful for all the authors who put their pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and helped me grow.
On the Search for Meaning of Life
Do you remember the opening
scenes in the Forrest Gump movie? Do you remember that floating feather? Each one of us on this planet is like that floating feather.
We came. We are here. We will be gone. In between that time that we came and we leave, we live, we thrive and we try to find meaning.
When we are little we want to grow up. When we grow up, we look back on life with nostalgia. And just when it feels like we have gotten the hang out of this wild ride, it is time to leave the party. Funny, is it not?
We chase everything possible that could be chased. We chase goals – work goals, personal goals, fitness goals, health goals, relationship goals and more. In between all this mad rush and chasing, we try to find ourselves. We try to find meaning in this chaos called life.
Since childhood, I have been chasing many dreams too. I have also been chasing many questions. Who am I? Why I am here? What am I doing? What is my purpose? I have done many things to find answers to these questions – I have practiced meditation. I have tried to live life to the fullest. I have tried to give my 100% to every moment as it passes. I have read voraciously on life and the meaning of life.
One of my favorite books on this topic of finding purpose and meaning is Viktor E. Frankl
’s, Man’s Search for Meaning
. In this book, psychologist Viktor Frankl describes his life as a prisoner in two different concentration camps during the Holocaust. Frankl keeps hope alive when all is gone. That is why Man’s Search for Meaning is my favorite book.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning