Why you must read more

You might think I am small, but I have a universe inside my mind

Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

I read a lot, I always did. I am absolutely sure that without books I would have not become the person that I am today. I was just a fragile girl living in a small village, having big dreams, and reading books about young women who struggled to fit into society, who wanted more from life than routines, more than a family or a respectable job and a pension.

I was reading about young women who were desperately longing for something greater, longing for freedom. They travelled, they read and they dreamed about pursuing their life’s passion or writing a novel that would shake the world. Everything they wanted to be, I wanted too.

The Great Longing, which was ever-present in my breast, was dispelled when I read these books, only to return with tenfold strength the moment I put them down. I always had something eating me from inside, and it was a blessing and a course, because I never stopped, I never settled, but I was also restless, never satisfied and always running from one place to another.

I made my way out of my hometown and straight to a prestigious school and I was eager to learn, I really was. But after a while I despised everything I had to study and memorise at my fancy-pancy German business university.

All the knowledge, the only really essential knowledge was to be found in the books I was reading and the movies I was watching. I wanted to be an artist, but I also wanted to fit somehow, and above all, to prove that I was where I was because I really deserved it, because I worked hard and because there were no impossible things for me to achieve with effort and persistence.

I adore Dostoyevski and he did prove me right writing:

Leave us alone without books and we shall be lost and in confusion at once. We shall not know what to join on to, what to cling to, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise. We are oppressed at being men — men with a real individual body and blood, we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrace and try to contrive to be some sort of impossible generalized man.

I was trying not to feel opressed as a woman with a real individual body and blood. I was trying to make sense out of things and to understand why I was in this world.

I graduated finally with a proud degree of a Master of Science and I was not interested in making big money or getting a consulting job, which is still a safe way to reach a decent status in this society. My friends were on their ways, and I was able to understand their reasonable choices, but at the same time I felt that it couldn’t be more meaningless for me. I couldn’t care less.

I wanted to travel around the world, sleep under the dark sky, sleep in cheap hostels, sleep on people’s couches, meet original humans on my way, breathe in the foggy morning air, climb up the mountains, swim in the sea, I wanted to feel alive.

I was not exactly sure what it was that I so desperately want but I was absolutely sure what it was that I didn’t want. That was already something. So I decided to grab this piece of information that my heart was sending out so clearly, grab it hard and don’t let go. I hit the way.

Volcano is a living creature — here in Guatemala, breathing in the smoke of Akatenango.

My plan was to live it all and then write it all down. I wanted to work as an actress and spend the rest of my time reading, writing, and dancing. That was my ideal solution, that was what I dreamed of during the endless days spent in the library and later on in an open-space fancy-pancy office.

One of those days, I took the step and it was no longer a dream, no longer an idea in my head, it suddenly became the reality that I live every single day. Sometimes I still cannot believe it: I have only one suitcase, I have moved plenty of times, I travelled more than I could imagine, and I do act, write, read, and dance. I re-read those phrases as I write them down because it still seems to be quite unbelievable.

Now there are more things on my mind, of course there are. But I am at peace with myself and I am at peace with the world. I found my connection with nature, I met wonderful people who proved me that this world is so much worth being in, I experienced unconditional love, intimidating hospitality, thrilling adventure, paralysing fear, and enormous gratefulness.

Today I feel small against the big city that I live in and I find beauty in the wired streets of my neighbourhood. I walk everywhere I can and I surround myself with glorious people. As every human being, there are days when I feel miserable, but when I sit here in my favourite coffeeshop, writing, I look out of the window, and simply being alive seem to be a grand, grand thing to me.

If it rains, I use a waterproof jacket but in any case I walk. Somewhere along the coast in Portugal.