Discovering

Dog-eared in each page

happy, anxious, sad, sorry

a new emotion

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Books be like

An exciting start,

dragging, then tumbling to close

a story’s story

Hey, universe… A little help?

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Does it, though?

When I read The Alchemist years ago, this particular quote stood out to me more than any other. It wasn’t just me, everyone spoke about Paulo Coelho’s declaration that the universe accommodates the dreamer. It was aspirational, and it led me to believe in myself a little more than I did before.

That was years ago.

As I grew up and dreamt of bigger and more worthy goals, I realised that the universe was far from helping me. It started to seem as if the universe was going out of its way to prevent me from reaching my heart’s desire. Every task turned sour. Every day, and every want became painful to swallow. I started channelling my anger and frustration at Coelho for stuffing my head with false promises when none of his claims worked for me. Not that I failed in all of my endeavours, but the process of achieving them often seemed like sheer luck or extensive effort. None of my successes came easy, and by the time I completed a tiny goal I was too tired even to celebrate. And for that I pitied myself and hated everyone else. Jealously crept through me as my colleagues and acquaintances succeeded without expending even half of my efforts. It infuriated me that they had life the easy way when I—who craved for it more than they did—struggled to stay afloat.

It was unfair.

Here I am stringing bits and pieces to capture the bigger picture while the undeserving got all the opportunity I should have.

I’m ashamed now, But I was so jealous then.

I still believe in Paulo Coelho’s aspirational words, but instead of trusting them in a blind way, I take them with a grain of salt.

I’ve realised that sometimes the universe tests us, torments us, and taunts us to see how much we want what we want. Sure, some people might not face challenges, but it’s the challenges and the way we meet them that determine how deserving we are. More often than not, we give up even before we face those challenges.

I’ve wanted to give up so many times—I’d considered all the negativity as a sign for me to stop trying. As if all the hurdles in the path towards my goal are omens telling me I shouldn’t pursue my goals.

And I think that’s where most of us fall behind. We get so close to achieving our goals, after striving for years, and as we encounter one more step back, we decide to step back altogether.

But if we hang on, persevere despite all the world telling us not to, the universe just might turn in our favour. It won’t happen in an instant, and it may not happen for a long time, but some time the horizon will come.

Adventurous

Diving down oceans

running up mountains—breathless

explores a reader

Dear Diary…

Writing in a diary is precious, isn’t it? The first time I realised its beauty I was reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Born into a Jewish family in Hitler’s Germany, Anne maintained a diary during the few years she and her family were hiding from captivation. Her father, the only survivor of the concentration camp that wiped out the family, published her diary. To this day it remains a stunning reminder and a heart-wrenching portrayal of the life of a teenager in wartime.

It was the emotions and the ultimate simplicity of that diary that inspired me to start writing my own diary. Every day I’d record my thoughts, frustration, observations, and general musings. When I looked at the entries months afterwards, I noticed a lot of silly mistakes. But I also saw a lot of potential and my true self coming out of the diary. That’s how I understood so many aspects and characteristics of myself. It was so sincere and so flippant that I saw myself for the first time.

I loved what I discovered so much so that I incorporated diary entries as part of a story I wrote. I had a couple of chapters dedicated to diary entries of my main characters. And I felt the difference, too. I dug deep into the character to extract their innermost emotions, because the diary of a character speaks truer words about them than the character themselves. It’s so because diaries are for personal readership. Anyone who keeps a journal knows that no one would and should read it but themselves. That gives them immense confidence to be themselves and let their guard down.

I did. That’s why I managed to impress myself so. It’s the same of anyone else. Because we know it’s private, we allow ourselves to be real. We charade our true emotions and opinions in public for fear of people hating or misunderstanding them. While we project what we want to project to the world, a diary is where we take a break and project our actual thoughts.

During a particular rough time in my life, I was so self-pitying. No one else who met me would’ve known that at the time. I didn’t realise it myself—until months later I read what I’d written in my diary. It’s such a harsh way of telling yourself who you are and I think that’s a pretty powerful technique in storytelling.

I just started reading a book that’s made up of nothing but diary entries. I’ve only read about 50 pages but I already see the depth at which a journal characterises the person. I see two different personalities in the same journal entry—one when the character narrates what they did in public, and the second when the character writes down how they felt at that moment. There’s a lot of interesting juxtaposition and a beautiful arc of a story.

Although it’s so good so far, I wonder if it’d get boring as the story progresses. Too much of a good thing, perhaps? I can’t wait to find out.