One more day of insights from the novel, The Life of Pi, before I either donate my copy to the local library or find a more permanent place for it on a shelf here. I'm glad I looked at it before dropping it into a donation box! It's been nice to see my markings and annotations throughout. Let me share just a few more insights from it today.
Pi Patel, as you may know, the narrator, was going through a harrowing experience. He writes:
I would have given up - if a voice hadn't made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, "I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into a routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary ..."
Too often, the voice in our heads give us worries, problems, and obstacles. It's unsure. It's highly anxious. It doubts. But the voice of the heart can be another thing, altogether. The heart is the most ancient metaphor for the inner core we all have, where perception, reason, intuition, and resilience reside. Listen to your heart, and you will often get just the message you need to turn the rare miracle into routine, and see the amazing every day.
I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease.
Pi then goes on to describe how often fear begins with a small doubt in the mind, which grows into great anxiety in the emotions, and then moves farther into the body, gripping us in all ways. Reason itself is no match for it. He says:
Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.
What can we do? He doesn't say much, only characterizing fear as, in the end, a wordless darkness, and giving us this advice:
You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it.
Pop psychologists talk a lot about the power of positive self-talk. It's easy to dismiss this as simplistic hokum. But the deeper we go, the more we understand the power of words, well used, to counter the irrational. Speak to yourself in the quiet of your mind in positive ways, and you can dispel the fog of fear. It's not easy. But it can work.
The book is full of other insights, but these are probably enough for our purposes.
Why do we read? For entertainment, certainly, but also for wisdom. I'm always deeply gratified to find real wisdom in an entertaining book. It's rare enough. But when it comes, we can delight, and we can learn.