Yesterday I spent a beautiful sunny day sitting in my pajamas, drinking lots of tea and reading. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to really sit and read. High school and college kind of stole the wonderful feeling I used to get from books, but now that I have a lot more time to myself, I’ve decided to squander less of my time on YouTube and Netflix (not that I’m not going to make time for that…). Yesterday I finished a book that I might now consider one of my favorites, and then began a new one that made me way too eager to finish it immediately. I’d like to share a few insights from both.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
This book is relatively short, but took me more than a week to finish as I hadn’t really given myself time to sit and focus on it. I also wasn’t really sure how I felt about it until yesterday when I finally finished it. I’m not going to really talk about the book, because there are plenty of summaries online and I am terrible at describing books. Read the book if you want, or don’t. But it struck a chord in me. Even more than the insights I found from the book, which I feel align greatly with where I have been with my spirituality lately, I found out a little bit about myself that I think is really important. I have always questioned the information given to me, from religion to advice to politics. While it’s always important to question information, I felt that not having a base belief, something concrete, I was in a sort of limbo. This book describes the idea that one can learn from everyone and everything, but the final goal that people often search for can only be found from within. I told you, I’m crap at explaining books. Or most things. But here’s a quote that makes more sense:
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
You can take from that what you wish, but I see it as learning from every person you meet and every experience, and then thinking for yourself what is important and what is not, and how you can apply those lessons to your life. There are so many more themes that rock my socks and make so much sense but I really don’t think my rambling explanations will help anyone, so just know the book is cool and I learned a thing or two from it.
Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World by Benny Lewis
I’m not far into this book (which is also relatively short), but even if you’re not trying to learn a new language Lewis really nails on the head a lot of the reasons that people don’t fulfill their goals. I think world languages are really interesting and I’ve always loved the idea of being a polyglot, but my (hopefully attainable) goal has always been to learn Spanish in order to communicate with my family. As I’ve grown up hearing the language I’ve always found the sound comforting, and I think it would really be amazing to be able to talk to my grandparents in their native tongue instead of forcing them to speak in English.
A few pages into this book, and I can see why this method works so well. It’s easy to want to download or buy a hundred dollar system that says it’ll teach you a new language, but with Lewis’ method you actually have to put the work in. As long as you are passionate and focused on reaching your goal, it really is possible to quickly become fluent or close to fluent in a new language, even if it means just being able to have a short conversation with a local.
But reading through his tips, it’s obvious, and applies to most aspects of life. People always have “someday” goals, or vague New Years resolutions like “do more yoga” (like me lol) or “be more gracious.” But if you identify the steps necessary to really excel at something, and you can give yourself a time frame to get started, it’ll be much easier to actually get where you want. If instead of “I want to be better at Spanish” your goal is “I want to be able to order a meal in Spanish” and you give yourself a month, chances are it’ll happen.
Here’s another quote for your pleasure:
“The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how high you raise your foot.”
-Benny Lewis, Fluent in 3 Months
And another one of my favorite quotes that was also featured in Lewis’ book:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
So how was my attempt at being enlightening and inspirational? Probably not great, but I felt the need to type this out and so I did and here it is. As I have learned from another book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, a book that comes highly recommended by my father, I am doing what I am doing for myself, and for no one else. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer, and if you don’t, then ¯_(ツ)_/¯.