To Read What You Need

The mystical aspect of life can both be wonderful and bewildering at the same time. You cannot help but marvel at the way certain events unfold sometimes – unexpectedly but not unnecessarily. I had Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet on my to-be-read list since ages, and a few days ago I suddenly got this strange urge to shelve the other book I had been reading, and go for it instead. I had not realised how much I had needed to read it until then. The universe must have known though!

It is rare to come across a book that does an excellent job of describing everyday feelings this eloquently. It is a marvelous, melancholic, and achingly wistful book, with so many quotable passages.

“Impressions are incommunicable unless we make them literary. Children are particularly literary, for they say what they feel and not what someone has taught them to feel. Once I heard a child, who wished to say that he was on the verge of tears, say not ‘I feel like crying,’ which is what an adult, i.e. an idiot, would say, but rather, ‘I feel like tears.’ And this phrase – so literary it would seem affected in a well-known poet, if he could ever invent it – decisively refers to the warm presence of tears about to burst from eyelids that feel the liquid bitterness. ‘I feel like tears’! That small child aptly defined his spiral.”

“I’m a navigator engaged in unknowing myself. I’ve overcome everything where I’ve never been. And this somnolence that allows me to walk, bent forward in a march over the impossible, feels like a fresh breeze.Everyone has his alcohol. To exist is alcohol enough for me. Drunk from feeling, I wander as I walk straight ahead. When it’s time, I show up at the office like everyone else. When it’s not time, I go to the river to gaze at the river, like everyone else. I’m no different. And behind all this, O sky my sky, I secretly constellate and have my infinity.”

Excerpts from The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

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