We are all influenced by what everyone else says or does. We’re constantly looking for social acceptance and a feeling of place. I think a lot of what we say and do, how we act is shaped by our perception of other people’s views of us. Our perceptions may not be the same as how people actually perceive us but our perception of their views is what really shapes who and what we become.
I think a lot what shapes Gogol, in Jumpa Lahrir’s The Namesake, is his perception of the views of others. I feel as though he’s afraid, afraid of not being American, afraid of not being socially accepted, afraid of being rejected. I realized that he rejects a lot of his beliefs and certain aspects of his life simply because he feels that others would find it different or strange.
I realized that I’ve also been obsessing over other people’s views. More specifically, views of my work. Every time I sit in front of my laptop telling myself I’m finally going to blog today, I find myself hitting the “save draft” button only because I feel too scared to hit that “Publish” button. I find it hard to put my thoughts and feelings out there, public for everyone to read. I find the thought daunting that complete strangers from anywhere around the world would be able to read my thoughts and feelings. What if what I say makes no sense? What if my thoughts are somehow wrong? It’s now I realize, it doesn’t matter. My thoughts are my own, and though there’s a chance I might be alone in my opinion, it’s still my own.
Books are a doorway into world of new and powerful ideas. It presents a view unlike any other. Reading, to quote Ashoke’s grandfather (in The Namesake) is “to travel without moving an inch.” (Lahiri 39)
Books become central to Ashoke’s life in the novel. It becomes his escape, his relief from the troubles around him, his lifesaver. During and after the train crash that becomes a pivotal moment in his life, Ashoke strongly believes that the fact he was reading when the crash occurs saved his life. He believes that while reading, he is removed from the real world and is thrust into a new world woven by the words of the author. He believes that this is what ultimately saves his life.
Like Ashoke, I feel connected to books in a way that is completely indescribable. Books have become a wonderful to escape the stress and turmoil of everyday life. They show you new places, new ideas, new cultures. They present a whole new host of ideas and thoughts, it’s impossible not to want to fall into. It’s a back door that allows you to escape into a new world, a world completely separate and at times unpredictable. It provides an acute sense of relief and suspense, happiness and sadness, admiration and contempt. It’s these combined emotional responses that give a rush of excitement and joy.
When reading, everything else becomes secondary, no longer important. All problems and stress put on hold. It’s an escape hatch that opens up a world of possibilities.