A kaliedoscope called life
Published by: Particular Books
Price: INR 450
Some self-help books purport to tell you how to live your life, while others teach you how to manage your money. But once in a while comes a book that tells you the importance of enjoying life, of really being in touch with your inner self on a level that brings you pure joy. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was one such book. But after reading The Sweetness of Life by Françoise Héritier, I finally understood how this concept of real joy could be experienced through words.
Héritier is Emeritus Professor at the College de France and usually writes books on anthropology. She got an idea to write a book about the simple things that bring about the ‘sweetness in life’ when her psychologist apologised for taking a ‘stolen’ holiday for a week.
This inspired her to think about who was stealing what? If he felt so guilty about living his life, didn’t it mean that it was work that was actually stealing his life from him? That it was work that was keeping him from experiencing the smaller things that make up the essence of life? So she asked him—and herself—one simple question: “How much time is left for the average person to enjoy those activities that are the sweetness of life?”
In the book, she writes about all the small and big experiences that amaze and astound her every day. From things like ‘collecting mulberries’ or ‘phone calls made with no reason’ or ‘feeling your heart leap’ to bigger experiences like ‘seeing a pair of lions silently cross the trail in moonlight’ or ‘seeing Fujiyama or Kilimanjaro’ or the slightly hedonistic ‘sitting in the sun in the Piazza Navona in Rome in February while you eat a rocket salad and drink a glass of Orvieto’.
While it’s easy to feel guilty about all the things you’re missing out in life, this book highlights the urgent need to pay more attention to the things around us that we take for granted. This book struck a chord with me because I remember how my first job in retail was depriving me of life. When I missed the birth, and the first birthday, of my younger niece—two moments that will never come back—I finally quit that job.
This beautiful, imaginative, evocative book is a wonderful, up-close look into the collage of our life. Its visual imagery gently teaches us to slow down, smell the roses, and feel the mystery and majesty that is our life.