Pandora’s box has been opened; a whole swarm of crazy has been unleashed. Only, instead of being anxious, I felt happy and giddy and excited. I could hear the swish of ideas whizzing left and right in my head. Zeal consumed me as I felt the whole world was mine for the taking.
No, I wasn’t getting high this time. Believe it or not, this euphoria came from after reading two books — ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma & ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Timothy Ferriss.
i’ve been devouring books lately, mostly because i’m taking advantage of the sembreak. admittedly, i got drawn to buy james frey’s ‘a million little pieces’ because of its cover (the piece looked like candy sprinkles… how can i resist?), but the story turned out to be not bad, not bad at all.
it’s about an addict’s account of his stay at a treatment center. although it claims to be an autobiography, a friend just told me that the author owned up to making up some of the parts, but still that does not make the book less of a good read.
it’s the type of book you guzzle in two sittings. the author writes in such a way that you can peek into an addict’s mind, and find out that whatever you thought about how being addicted must feel — YOU JUST HAVE NO IDEA. i like the part where he goes off at a tv show for glamourizing addicts & alcoholics; he’d like to lock the show’s writers in room, feed them all the crack they could swallow and then watch if they can make their doctors fall in love with them and walk away with their pet golden retrievers. honestly, i don’t think i’ll be able to relate to a person who’s not sarcastic or ranting at least half the time, and the author did not fail me at all.
the only thing that put me off was the love angle. the book throws me grit, cursing, despair, and then magically, love conquers all. i was like, ‘what the hell?!’. seriously. here he was: broken. hardened. furious. an addict, an alcoholic & a criminal, who at 23 has been through hell so many times it’s like the park for him. and then the only thing that makes him say the ultimate ‘NO’ to drugs is the girlfriend he met at the treatment center. dang. the author let me down on that one. because if love is the only thing that can save the utterly hopeless, then i’m seriously screwed.
“If suicide meant giving up, then I’d be dead by now.”
I got chills from reading. I don’t know whether it was because of the book’s dark theme, or because never had I identified this much with a book character — and he was a grown black man who was also a drunk unemployed thief. It was as if someone has found the words for me to articulate not just my thoughts, but my angry musings.
And to think I almost passed this book up. Powerbooks was having a sale, and although I’ve never heard of the title nor of the author, the premise was promising, so I spared 99 bucks. 99 bucks for this surprise whack in the head. sweet.
I also liked the part wherein the lead was asked the quintessential question, ‘Have you ever been in love?’. He did not pretend to stare off deeply and say ‘yes’; for him, if others described love as like gravity for its unexplicable but irrefutable attraction, then he was a floating astronaut. ditto.
Mind-blowing story, but not nearly as mind-blowing as the storytelling. But what do you expect from the writer of Fight Club? Bravo. Not only did it keep me hooked, it was an unexpected source of subtle Ayn Rand-ish insight. Two points etched:
(1) The What Now? Phenomenon From high school to college to post-graduate studies, we try hard to ingrain as much technique and technical mastery as possible. Come graduation, here we are, erudites in our own respective fields, and we still find ourselves lacking in the one thing schools can’t assure you — inspiration. It’s kind of sad, us adept and driven, but without direction. After beating ourselves to a pulp, we’re still missing our why-isque what (or that what-tic why, if you prefer). Then we curse the unschooled genius who comes along and whips up the excellent from nothing. Dang.
(2) Everything’s our diary. All that we touch, all that we make are telltales of who we are. The colors we choose. The words we pick. The stains on your clothes. What’s in your bag. What’s not in your bag. Everything’s a tattler.
A long-overdue wake-up call for me. I think this piece of fiction holds more promise than any self-help book out there (not that I’ve ever been a fan of self-help books). I’m barely past halfway, and already its words have already seeped through how I think, process, accept, and reject things. A good guide for the lost, for those putting up with a streak of defeat, or for those settling for just leaning on life’s inertia. I love how its lines overwhelm me, that I just have to stop and let the words just linger for a while.
Of course, like any other insight, it should not be mistaken for wisdom. For knowledge without action remains simply as that — knowledge. Or worse, folly.