We live in a world where a lot of us are compelled to like certain things and people. I didn’t read Jane Austen for most of my life but at bookish gatherings I would appreciate the deceased author and comment on her writing based on whatever little I had read of her. Of course, my companions would assume I had read lots because I do read a lot. But there we go pretending. Today I love Austen wholeheartedly and honestly.
Why must people feel compelled to like Austen or Dickens? Why can’t someone declare they hate The Godfather and get away with it? And if you don’t like to read then why do I make such a fuss about what a terribly boring and pretentious person you must be?
We begin with the classics at school and there’s no wonder many who have slaved under CBSE prefer to be doctors or engineers. English Literature is about being in another era. Almost always in school textbooks you’d find Wordsworth and Keats – what happened to Bukowski? What of Cummings? Aren’t they poets as well? Isn’t Frank O’Hara one of the best poets of the 20th century? Doesn’t their poetry make much more sense to us than Keats who sat by lakes under trees and wrote about the same? There are profound sentiments in these poems, but here I am in an apartment, typing away at a laptop with no lakes or trees around me. In Bukowski’s poem I’d find myself in a kitchen with a bowl of goldfishes – something I understand and can sense.
I think we never really know. All of us have a different version of reality and what is good or not. You certainly don’t have to agree with me and I don’t have to stick to my opinion. I should have the freedom to change my mind completely and not be judged for it. At the same time, all of us should have the freedom to say what we truly believe. If we don’t express how will we progress in life? If I keep to myself in my room, reading and reading all my life and never talk about what I read – will I have read at all? Would it matter if I’d read? Would it really if I buried all my thoughts with me?
But again – is it really so terrible if I absorb and withhold?
I always assumed if some tragedy struck my space I would dive into my world of writing and reading. I always thought if I lost someone I would never stop writing and I would read to make the pain easy.
But when my cat passed away it felt like cheating. I couldn’t pick up a book or a pen because of the pleasure it would give me – and it felt awfully wrong to feel relief. So I didn’t.
I always read about people who lose themselves in the world of reading or writing when they have lost someone they dearly loved – and I always thought I would be one of those people. But I won’t pretend to be one of them. When my cat passed away it felt wrong to read or write.
I guess all of us feel things differently. We love differently we hate differently and we even read differently. It’s only natural. But to me it felt like I was somehow cheating myself and cheating the world by not following the path of handling grief that had always been presented to me as the one for writers, artists and readers. I was always told that sadness, depression, grief and loneliness drove people to writer masterpieces. So when me, a girl in the 21st century, could not find the strength to pick up a book because I felt so heartbroken, it felt as though I was erronous and unnatural.
But I didn’t have it in me to move on and find peace through literature and words. I knew that if I found myself smiling, I’d cry. I knew that if I found myself enjoying the rush of my ink spreading over the paper with words, I’d stop. I knew that if I coped with my sadness too early, I’d find myself ugly and unfeeling.
We have to find our own identity in the midst of the world telling us what we are.