This post is a part of my Personal Development Project for May 2016.
Usually when I finish a good or truly awesome book, I’m immediately gripped by the need to write about it. I have to spend a couple hours just pouring out my thoughts and feelings in an Evernote document before I’m able to feel any sort of peace. And actually, it’s not uncommon for me to have to go through this process multiple times before I even finish the book. It doesn’t matter whether the book was a treatise on economics or religion, or was a Shakespearean play or a YA novel. I always have something to say or note or think about afterward.
But most unusually, when I finished Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, I didn’t have anything to say. I didn’t have anything that I actively wanted to write about. I felt the weight of the work and was consumed in simply remembering it for days on end, but I didn’t actually feel that prickling need to write about it or record my thoughts. It was bizarre. But I just trusted myself and went with it, assuming I would never write anything about Steppenwolf and how much it affected me (I wanted to say “how it changed my life”, but that’s a bit too dramatic).
While on a walk the other day though, I realized there is indeed something I really want to say. And the novel Steppenwolf is largely responsible for the insight that I had:
We can’t alter or control the world as much as we would like to.
It’s just not possible. And it’s okay. Good, even. If we were all-powerful, if we had the insight or ability to make everything “just work right”, then we’d miss out on a lot of beautiful things in life. We’d miss out on community and camaraderie and love. These things require trust, vulnerability, and a lack of control.