Tag: joy

A Curiosity: When Our Paths Cross

I’ve been more and more curious about other people’s lives. Of what it means to be a school cook, a flight attendant, a jewelry store salesperson. How does the world look through their eyes?

Ive also been reading too much academic writing, and even though I’m learning (l love learning), there’s nothing beautiful to this type of writing (I’m sure that there are exceptions to this). When I think about my reading preferences, the reason why I am an avid reader is because I was able to make a home out of the books I read.

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To make a home you need emotions, but after I read a chapter from an academic textbook, I feel like the authors only showed up to hand me the materials for me to build a home and to leave me to my own devices.

Going back to this curiosity of wanting to experience life through someone else’s point of view makes me think of my love of reading.  This might be the reason why I love reading memoirs and diaries. I love how writers can share the grandest truths through the simplest and sometimes, too, the humblest experiences. When taking out the trash, an uneventful Tuesday, or a stranger become the foundations of an epiphany.

One Lesson from Etty Hillesum’s Diaries

 

It never ceases to amaze me how I continue to learn from dead people who are not blood related.

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While reading Etty Hillesum’s diaries which were written from 1941 to 1943, I found myself dog earring pages where I found quotes applicable to my life. One of the things that amazes me about Etty is that she found peace, joy, and the beauty of life despite the oppression around her. She was a Dutch Jew living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, but she never let suffering take hold of her life.

Just like Etty, I have learned how to make much with little. Like her, I feel gratitude for the simplest things: a cup of coffee, a book or a muffin. Even though this is the only book the world will have written by her, (how much I wish she could have lived longer and written more diaries or books), I have found numerous lessons in this collection of her eight diaries.

In one entry she writes, “The rottenness of others is in us, too…I really see no other solution than to turn inward and to root out all the rottenness there. I no longer believe that we can change anything in the world until we have first changed ourselves. And that seems to me the only lesson to be learned from this war. That we must look into ourselves and nowhere else.”