LIFE LESSONS

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This personal essay may lead you into a short trip of my own experience with books, into my modest attempts in writing. Step out with me on a path of discovery, where writers through their books influence human spirit and lives.

Submitted: November 10, 2018

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Submitted: November 10, 2018

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Life lessons

This personal essay may lead you into a short trip of my own experience with books, into my modest attempts in writing. Step out with me on a path of discovery, where writers through their books influence human spirit and lives.

I grew up in a magic atmosphere of books, of suave waves of creativity and writing. My father was a well-known poet in Timisoara, the old city of Romania. He was often sitting at his desk, gazing in the air, lost in an unknown world. I was little. I could not read or write, but at that time I already understood that the world of books is something very special and magical.

I started to read books at an early age. My father’s library contained three thousand books - a promising adventurous start. My first adventures were the Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling, where I almost lost myself into the Indian jungle with Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves, and with Baloo, the protective bear, followed by Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days, where I had a new exciting time with Fogg and his valet Passepartout on their world discoveries. These experiences taught me that the world was big, challenging, and great. My imagination started to grow and reading became an adventurous sublime experience. 

One night, I went into our small kitchen where my father was writing a poem. It was dark around but the candles’ light was enough to illuminate the small table. Silently, I joined him at the table, I took a piece of paper, grabbed a pen and gazed up into the air. Within a few minutes, beautiful words were flowing from my inner world on paper and building a gracious poem. My father was surprised, so proud of me, so happy. These moments remained in my memory forever ? they were the last hours from my father’s life. 

At that time, I felt so empty. I continued to read, hungry for wisdom, for consolation, as I was searching for my father’s soul hidden behind the dusty shelves. Some memorable books, such as Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dames, and Alexander Dumas The Three Musketeers took me out from solitude and inspired me on a cheerful path - I chased piglets simulating sword fights and played out scenes with friends from Hugo’s and Dumas’s stories. The grandiose authors thought me that reading is not a mechanical process, reading is a free manifestation of our spirit into new worlds, sometimes evoking great actions into the world around us.

A few years later, I immigrated to Germany. There was a stage of quietness, and fight for existence, a time of being entangled in an unknown language and stumbling into new words. I was incapable of expressing myself in the new language. My spirit felt like a prisoner captured in a silent dark room. One day, a friend gave me a book. It was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. With a dictionary in my hand, I started to read, stopping on the way many times to translate, to understand, and reflect on the words. I was floating in space and time, in the history of philosophy, lost in questions, determined to find enlightening answers. I remembered and enjoyed the refreshing energy, the prickly taste of philosophy, a flavor already gained from my father’s books. ‘Who am I? How big is the universe?’ I asked myself. Gaarder believed “there is something of the divine mystery in everything that exists.” (1991) I am walking through my whole life, firmly believing in that particular thought.

I started studies in German literature and Journalism. The German literature is rich and versatile and offers a clear insight into the history and culture of the country. A memorable book I read is the “Chess Story “by Stefan Zweig. He was thinking, “People and events don't disappoint us, our models of reality do. It is my model of reality that determines happiness or disappointments.” (1981) I believed him. His life as a Jewish during the World Wars in Austria gave Zweig enough substance to write stories that originate from real events - and that was my attraction. I learned to enjoy a new facet of reading - the revelation of real stories.

As my reading journey continued, I turned back to philosophy when I discovered Richard David Precht. I read several of his books and I liked them all. In Who Am I? And If So, How Many? for example, Precht discusses the nature of the brain, of the human’s knowledge; he raises questions about ethics, about happiness and love. I reflected on his various thoughts, on the big ideas of identity, I reflected again about the world. Why do I like authors as Precht? Maybe it is their honesty in searching for vital truths. When we find an answer, a new existent part in and around us become vivid, tangible, and that part continues to cheer and fascinate us our whole life.

My move to Australia a few years ago was a celebration but also a challenge. Far from my familiar environment, my previous life became again a sandcastle blown away by the wind of my destiny. Again, I was tangled in a new language, unable to speak or understand its words. The words are so important; they are butterflies that carry dreams and sometimes, precious pearls of wisdom, from our inner fountain of thoughts and feelings out into the world. Every day, I felt the nostalgia, the burning desire to get back into my world of books.

 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was the first book I read in English. Again, with a small dictionary in my grasp, I stepped into Hosseini's’ world. I read it slowly and reflected on it. In Hosseini’s story, I learned about Mariam and Laila, Afghanistan’s women and their merciless destinies under Taliban regime, I dreamed their dreams; I felt the precious feeling that helped them to survive ? love. The journey was breathtaking. I thought about Hosseini and his immigration to America, his journey to a new country, the challenges he would have faced. Somehow, I felt encouraged. Along with my life, writers became my closest friends: they let me into their world to rest and regenerate and offered me the fruits of their wisdom, valuable emotions, and hope.

My first short fiction story in English, a love story from the time of the Romanian revolution in 1989, was like flying – the liberation of my soul from the dusty silent places of my entity. Writing it felt like a light summer rain: the words were falling softly to the ground, releasing refreshing thoughts and tangible emotions into the world.  

This year, one of my poems in the Romanian language was published in several cultural Romanian journals, including Timisoara. After 28 years my soul went back there, to the place I was born, touching with its wrings my father’s library and whispering to his soul - ‘thank you, dear father, for teaching me the passion for reading, the excitement of writing.’ 

Thank you for reading this personal essay, dear reader. 

Wishing you creativity, inspiration, and happiness!

Anisoara Laura 

 


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