One Book Is All It Took

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I bought a book* around fifteen years ago.

For some reason I can no longer remember, I did not read the book for almost three years after I got it. There it sat, gathering dust, while I struggled trying to find a foothold in the dense fog. All the while, if I had but read the book, I might have had brilliant light to guide me. Somehow, I find the pointlessness of the thing pretty poignant.

However, there is always a reason for why things happen the way they do. I realized many years later why I hadn’t read the book when I got it first. I wasn’t ready for it. I needed to learn to observe myself as a detached observer. I had yet to learn Sakshi Baav. I had to learn to stop identifying with the me who was living the moments and identify instead, with the me who was witnessing the me living the moments.

When did finally get round to reading the book, I was blown away.

I remember my first reading of it was hurried. It was as if I couldn’t get it into me fast enough. I was so amazed. Incredulity, delight and sheer overwhelm were my predominant emotions. I devored the book greedily like one who was starved as well as thirsty. Some parts of the commentary threw down anchors into my soul, some flitted irreverently past. I knew I had stumbled upon something mammoth.

…I don’t just wish you rain, Beloved – I wish you the beauty of storms…

~ John Geddes

I re-read the book immediately after the first reading, savoring and making copious notes. I let the insights work away at removing rubble so that the reconstruction could begin. I still did not tackle the questions though. I suppose you need a clear space before you can begin re-creating and reinventing. There were parts which simply cemented themselves into the walls of my inner world without fanfare.

All this happened in June and July of 2004. It wasn’t the beginning of the year, but it didn’t matter.

Each day is the first day of the rest of your life, after all. Click To Tweet

It took me seven full days to answer the ten questions that make the book as powerful as it is.  I dug out an old diary to record my journey in. That diary turned into my instrument of deliverance. The seven days of feverish scribbling became my first experience of life giving catharsis.

I wrote as if possessed. Pages filled up faster than I could ever have imagined. Tears flowed endlessly. My head got heavier and heavier. The band around my forehead tightened inexorably. I felt weak with the effort to keep myself afloat while the universe seemed to conspire to drown me once and for all.

On and on my thoughts raced. There seemed no end in sight. I was deeply enmeshed in an awful labyrinth. While despair gnawed at me something began to stir awake within me. I was not aware of it but in hindsight I realized that the awakened me held me together while the storm raged around me.

Through the whole process, I remained unflinchingly honest with myself. With unwavering deliberation I stripped myself of all the alibis I had erected into place to excuse my own inadequacies and failures. I wanted to keep my eyes closed to my own faults.

Trust me, the hardest thing in the world is to look as yourself as objectively as you would look at another. To see your own scars, warts and ugliness plainly and clearly is to tear the lid off your own hell and peer within. I did it, so help me God! It was hardly a sight to gladden sore hearts, but I live to tell the tale.

We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.

~ LeeAnn Taylor

For once my integrity proved to be of direct and immediate benefit to me. As I peeled many layers of conditioning away, I unearthed my deepest motivations. During those seven days I finally unpacked my anger to discover what triggered me off- and why. I dragged out all my belief systems into the light of deliberation. I went over each joint of that belief system inch by inch. I discovered the corruptions which had leached into the timbers, making them warped and misshapen.

During those seven days I finally unpacked my anger to discover what triggered me off- and why. Click To Tweet

I don’t know when the moment of breakthrough happened. But suddenly, I was able to look at the false identifications and perceptions which I had let shackle me. I was forever free of the need to justify or defend myself in response to other people’s wrong evaluations. Their judgments, poor opinions and accusations must never affect me again, I decided. What someone stuffs into their head is none of my business. It has nothing to do with me!

Like magic, my anger issues melted away. People’s opinions- their criticisms, unflattering evaluations and accusatory value judgments- stopped mattering to me. I understood that unless an unfair criticism was fired at me by someone very close, I really did not need to internalize their assessments at all. I felt gloriously and totally free for the first time in my life!

‘How does one become butterfly?’ Pooh asked pensively.

‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,’ Piglet replied.

‘You mean to die?’ asked Pooh.

‘Yes and no,’ he answered. ‘What looks like you will die, but what’s really you will live on.’

~ A.A. Milne

Perhaps the book was merely an excuse. Maybe the time was right for me to undergo that process of transformation anyway- book or not. Or maybe I would have been driven to the book one way or the other because it had already been chosen to carry me to the next level.

Whatever the case maybe, I do recommend that you read it too. Maybe you’re pretty far advanced on your journey already. But then you see, you ARE reading this post. You were brought to it for some reason. Are you sure it wasn’t because the universe thinks it is time to nudge you towards this book?

I don’t know what your journey ahead will be. I don’t know if you will traverse it with the book or without it. I’m sure though, that reading it will certainly enrich and empower you in many ways.

The whole process- of reading, introspecting, answering questions and releasing pain- became the biggest, most moving transformative experience of my life. The time I spent reading the book multiple times, was how I sealed myself in my cocoon. The seven days I spent answering the questions were when the secret, mystical process turned an unwieldy caterpillar into something resplendent.

One Book Is All It Took. Astounding, right?

*The book has been written by Jinny S. Ditzler and is called Your Best Year Yet. The book has been designed as a workbook resource to be used as you step into a new year. It contains ten questions which, when answered honestly, would help you create a faultless road map to ensure that the new year becomes the Best Year you have ever had!

 

9 thoughts on “One Book Is All It Took

  1. Beloo Mehra

    Love the Krishnamurti quote with which you end. It takes me directly to the thoughts floating around in my head as I was reading through your post. Will come back later and share some of those thoughts, once I had a chance to sift through some of those. As always, a superbly honest and sincere piece of writing. Quintessentially you 🙂 Will be back here, soon!

    Reply
  2. Zephyr

    Whoa! That must be some book and I intend getting it as soon as I can. I am not astounded that it took just one book to bring about a transformation in self perception. What is more astounding is to lay one’s hand on the right one. You lay bare all the pain of casting aside the caterpillar to emerge into the beautiful butterfly that I got to know and befriend. Quite simply, most of us would baulk at the exercise and give up half way through or even earlier.

    Will wait for Beloo’s thoughts in this space and learn some more. Between you and her, you make me learn so much, sometimes I wonder if I even need any old book 🙂

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      It is indeed an awesome book Zephyr. Or maybe the book is only good but the time when I ‘met’ it was the right time, hence the deeper impact. For all I know, it may not be as effective for someone else as it was for me.

      Your comment has made me tear up. Thank you for the love. You really and truly make me feel cherished.

      As for learning, I’d say exactly what you did. “Between you and Beloo, you teach me so much…”

      Don’t argue now. Bas. Keh diya. 🙂 <3

      Reply
  3. Beloo Mehra

    Ok, ladies, here I am again. Actually what I felt most as I was reading through the post, Dagny, was this sense of unburdening you must have felt during those seven days of what you refer to as peeling through the layers. I can see the great value in this exercise, and in some ways though somewhat different ways, I too have done something similar – and yes it involved writing but not as much as you do. But what I also discovered later on was that there is always a potential risk (if one could call it that) of being too critical of oneself, of focusing too much on what is negative or dark within us. I myself began to wonder if this was actually helping me ‘release’ or if this was adding a new layer of ‘identity-self’ to whatever it was that I was trying to remove. I wonder if I am able to make myself clear 🙂

    In any case, I discovered later on, through this trial and error method of sort, that maybe I need to focus more on bringing the light down in me which will on its own uncover the limitations or darkness rather than spending too much energy on analysing/deconstructing the negatives or all that which wasn’t working. Isn’t there a difference between the two? At least I thought so, and continue to think so. That is why I felt drawn to that Krishnamurti quote. Analysis doesn’t always lead to transformation. Transformation – maybe that is too big a word here, healing may be better – is perhaps a result of something that opens up when we move beyond analysis. Analysis can be a deconstructive activity – reducing things to smaller and smaller parts. But healing requires us to rediscover the wholeness within. To me, they sound like two different processes, though there may be some steps that are common between them.

    As I re-read your post just now, I also think that the breakthrough that you speak of was perhaps that turning point when you moved beyond analysis. Am I making sense?

    And Zephyr, I am sure you know how much we learn from you 🙂 Why, even your humorous writings about L&M and Brats are full of great wisdom about loving and living!

    Love and hugs to you both!

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      Beloo, once again today you have rounded off something which was incomplete… though I had no idea it was.

      It is so like you to give words to that (and so gracefully) to what remained unacknowledged in my post. You are absolutely right about the dangers of getting sucked into darkness and sliding inexorably into self-flagellation. I must confess, that during the first day or two, I was overwhelmed with self-criticism. There seemed nothing I had done right. Every aspect of my life looked an unmitigated disaster. I wallowed in that feeling of self-disgust for more hours than I remember now. I almost went over the edge. Almost… but not all the way.

      The first foothold I found on that slippery slope… strangely enough… was the acceptance and acknowledgement of my ‘badness’. “Okay”, I told myself, “I’ve made some awful mistakes. Yes, I’ve been a damn fool. And yes, I’ve not made myself proud. Now what?”

      That question was the saving of me. What was done was done. You cannot undo life. One of the things my ex was fond of repeating was: “What’s done cannot be undone.” I repeated those words to myself and that forced me to look up.

      I was desperate to make amends… to myself first of all. The 5th question in the book is : What are my personal values?

      Once I wrote down those values, I was able to promise myself to never welsh on those values again. I promised myself that I would not live a dual life as most people did. I will not have one set of values to keep in the cupboard to parade in company and another set to subject to the wear and tear of daily use. I will no longer renege on my deepest held values and belief, no matter what the compulsion or temptation.

      It got a little easier after that. I was able to complete the exercise. And with each question I tackled, my confidence grew. Somewhere, I think I began also to forgive myself my own darkness.

      As you said, the question was not of transformation but healing (how are you able to distinguish and identify with such delicate finesse which word must be used in a particular context?). The rest of the questions took me to the very edge of healing.

      Thank you for making me delve deeper into my memories. In a way I have my ex to thank for saving me from going over the edge. I must tell him that. He’ll be mighty pleased.

      Love and hugs to you and Zephyr!

      Reply
      1. Zephyr

        Thank you both for the wonderful discussion. Beloo indeed can go deep into the subject, no matter what it is and come up with hidden truths that had even eluded the writer! (She does it on my posts all the time and I am so happy to have her do it 🙂

        Reading your reply to Beloo, I felt afresh the confusion and pain that you had undergone at that point of time in your life, Dagny. Forgiving oneself is such a lovely thing to do to ourselves, for as Beloo has said, it is very easy to get too self critical and make us sink further in the morass of self-disgust. Strangely we can be more forgiving of others than of ourselves if we begin judging our actions, perhaps we set too high a standard for ourselves. I am so happy for you, for the way you took the reins of your life and look how far you have come on the journey!!

        Reply
  4. Rachna

    Ah, this post filled me with a strange sense of elation. Have been in a place where a book/several books have come into my life when I needed them to. They showed me a mirror, so to speak, faced me to confront issues I didn’t want to. Sometimes my own high morals can be quite an impediment. But yes, books they speak to you. They wiggle you out of your lethargy, making you take action, introspect and stop wallowing in pity.

    I have not read the book you’ve mentioned which I am sure is spectacular. But I’ve had the experience that you’ve shared. Will definitely try to catch hold of it. Love to you!

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      It no longer surprises me that books, influences, people come into our lives exactly when they are needed the most. It has made me a lot more courageous. I don’t get overwhelmed as I used to once.

      Sometimes my own high morals can be quite an impediment… That’s so YOU. And it is so ME as well. We are too conscientious by half. As Beloo said in her comment, the danger- with people like us- is that we may become too critical of ourselves. Only our own sense of fairness can save us then!

      I apologize for this looooong delay in responding. I replied in my head and forgot that I was still to type it out.

      Love to you! <3

      Reply

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