One of the many reasons why books are incredible. A man, whose life experience could not be more different than mine in every way, writes an autobiographical book about 2 years of his life during the 1950’s in a place called Big Sur (United States, Pacific Side) and I relate to it like he is my long lost best friend.
My mother’s best friend (since I was a child) is a fascinating woman named Abida. She is Abida Aunty to me. A single, divorcee, successful business woman (designs clothes) + incredibly brave, brilliant. Someone I never would have had connected to if I had not grown up the way I was forced to in the past 2 years.
Abida aunty’s advice has given me solace on some of my darkest days. and her bright smile, her joy in seeing my recovery, my passion, my independence renewed is one of the best gifts of returning home.
One of the other pleasures of Abida aunty is her love of obscure books. A few months back she sent a book to me: Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch with the strictest of instructions that i MUST read it. Needless to say when I saw the title of this book I was least motivated to read it. But somehow in the last minute packing for Chitral I decided to put it in my bag and thought if there was a time to read boring books it would be on holiday. Always good for helping me sleep if nothing else.
How “never judge a book by its cover” haunted me. the next few days while at Hindu Kush Heights I couldn’t put this book down. Miller is fascinating. He writes so honestly that I feel like I know him. And he writes about mainly what seems like the mundane but addresses the kinds of questions that have been floating in my mind for so long.
So this was my prologue to one of the most powerful passages from the book that I actually marked (usually I never have the foresight to do this). I know there are many more that I read but that just gives me an excuse to read this book again.
If there is a genuine need, it will be met.
This though, which Jean Wharton expressed over and over again, and in a hundred different ways, is one of these statements which can either be ridiculed into meaninglessness or accepted at face value and proved or disproved. That it has proved true in my own case, innumerable times, never ceases to astonish me. The thing to ask one’s self first of all is – are we truly aware of our real needs? “It” knows, but not us. “We” are usually bringing up the rear, often absent altogether. We abdicate before the throne we might occupy is even offered to us. There is a white charger, champing at the bit, ever ready to carry us to the most undreamed of goals. But do we mount him? Those who do leave a trail of fire behind them.
The question is, where do we want to go? And, do we want to take our baggage with us or travel light? The answer to the second question is contained in the first. Wherever we go, we must go naked and alone. We must each of us learn what no other can teach us. We must do the ridiculous in order to touch the sublime.
Who can say what the other’s needs really are? No one can really aid another except by urging him to move on. Sometimes one must move on without stirring from the spot. To detach yourself from your problems, that is the idea. Why try to solve a problem? Dissolve it! Bathe it in a saline solution of neglect, contempt and indifference. Fear not to be a coward, a traitor, a renegade. In this universe of ours there is room for all, perhaps even need for all. The sun does not inquire about rank and status before shedding its warmth; the cyclone levels the godly and the ungodly; the government takes your tax money even though it be tainted. Nor is the atom bomb a respecter of persons. Perhaps that’s why the righteous are squirming so.
summer is almost over. ramzan is around the corner. my lower back is hurting. my allergies are here waiting for the monsoon rain to clear up the clouds. dancing in my head for the first real rain. sitting outside today in my garden, i suddenly started to feel the moist heat intensify. absolute stillness for a glimpse of a second. then felt the release of a few simple raindrops swept with the breeze. monsoon clouds on edge, full and ominous, quiet and all encompassing. the sun peeks through muggy and humid.
“it takes a moist heart to walk with our brothers and sisters, a moist heart to be at peace in ourselves, a moist heart to serve the people well….” – Mary Jose Hobday.