How I met “reading” (part2)

May 2012

Reading is a necessity even for the normal person for several reasons … First, we don’t live in a world that consists only of our surroundings … The world is ruled by laws and moving ideas … Reading is like learning a language; a base for any conversation and for understanding people and yourself too … That’s why it’s funny, and probably hilarious, to repeat the phrase “reading is a hobby.” No, it’s a human duty like learning to speak.

Reading is an extra eye, hand, and leg which makes you outreach beyond your narrow limits and makes you understand your position in this life and what made you the way you are.

~Mr M, from our conversations [1]

This was probably the part when it had me; reading. So I decided to continue reading his book and his articles. And the more I read the more I understood and, in the same time, the more I found things that I couldn’t understand. I kept asking him about them, but his time was limited and some of the answers were more or less sufficient. I needed to know much more. I needed to learn more and more, and there was one topic that was more pressing than anything else: morality.

At that time the questions about morality -where does it come from, and why are some people more moral than others- were the most confusing to me. I’ve lived my whole life thinking that the answer was as simple as “religion” or “religious piety” –which was why I was so religious back then- but the revolution seemed to expose the religious leaders as the most among all who lack morality. So to me –a person who had learned basic moral standards before learning anything about religion- the answer seemed to be more complicated than that. I didn’t doubt religion at that time, I just thought it wasn’t enough in itself, and there had to be some other mysterious ingredient. I even found a part in his book that touched this area and I asked him about it, but Facebook was too small a place to find an answer for such a huge inquiry. And so the question was left unanswered … for some time at least …

In parallel, another story was going on in my life –one that can’t be summarized in this entry- which made me connect with a lost part of my early life. A part of which the only thing left was a language: the English language [2]. During this period, not only was the nostalgic urge to re-learn it available, but there was another more practical urge –probably less important, though. It was that I was on the verge of graduating and I couldn’t hope to get my dream job at a multinational company without having a good command of the language. So I found that reading would be a very good tool for that, and so I started reading my first book [3] as an adult –and probably my whole life.

As one cannot simply stop listening to music, I couldn’t stop reading. After that I started reading another novel [4] with a friend who seemed impressed with how much I had to say when we reviewed it together. And then, by coincidence, another friend of mine had found a very interesting video series in Arabic about a series of lectures at Harvard University that discussed, with a great deal of depth, the topics of morality and justice. Naturally, I watched all of the videos that had been posted, but I couldn’t wait for the next episodes, so I decided to watch the original lectures. And they were like no other lectures I had seen in my whole life! They literally changed my understanding of everything I knew about: right and wrong, state and law, philosophy, politics, and even life itself. I had always thought of myself as liberal and an advocate for human rights, but I hadn’t really knew why, and more importantly, I had never really knew much about either until I watched the lectures. Reading the book [5] that the professor had written for lectures wasn’t a choice. It became sort of like my new bible, and unlike my old one, it seemed to have real answers. It was the start of another huge transition in my life which, like my first one, also involved travelling in some way or another. [6]

January 2015

I was on the train, heading back to my home city from the city at which I work. I was chatting –over the Internet- with a friend who was going through a very similar predicament to the one I’ve been going through for a couple of years [7]. I really noticed the difference between being “lonely” and having someone who could provide real solace in the face of life’s ordeals. That “someone” is not from my circle of friends and acquaintances. In fact, only very few people know what I’m going through, and most of them are not my side and they usually add to the suffering. Rather, that “someone” is people whom I’ve never met in person, yet with whom I have lots and lots in common. People who are miles away from me and ages apart. People whom I’ve met in my books and who are more like myself than even my closest friends. They went through exactly what I’m going through -sometimes worse. Because of them I’ve lived more than once; I’ve lived each of their lives.

During my chat with my friend, I realized that even though he’s been always known to be smarter than me, I had much more wisdom and knowledge about our problem. Of course, it’s not my own wisdom and knowledge, it’s that which I’ve acquired from the infinite ocean of humanity- thanks to reading. That’s when it first occurred to me that I wanted to write a love poem to reading, and to write down how I came to fall in love with it. Ironically, this is the same friend who first introduced me to the mentioned video series which lead to this point.

Today, I never stop reading new books and about new ideas. I’m a Philomath whose thirst for knowledge and life can’t be quenched. And regarding my previous teacher and current friend who showed me the door, we don’t speak very often. But I have his contact details with me, preserved like a valuable collector’s item, for due time which may never come …


 1- Click here for part 1 of this entry

2- Check my previous entry “The personality factory (part1)” for more details

3- Actually 3 books: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

4- The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

5- Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel

6- The first one was when I left my country of birth and moved to my home country when I was 7 or 8. I will surely describe it great detail in a future post

7- Will be revealed in detail in a future post

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One response to “How I met “reading” (part2)

  1. Pingback: How I met “reading” (part1) | A Universe from Words

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