The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
I initially had mixed reactions to this book; strongly favoured towards the “I don’t think I can finish reading this” side. The book details a conversation between two individuals: one ex-high priced lawyer turned monk, the other a current lawyer whose life was slowly spiraling out of control. Each chapter highlights a different lesson taught by the Sages of Sivana, a group of monks living high in the Himalayas. I was initially frustrated by this book, mainly due to its simplistic, repetitive writing style, but also because each lesson/chapter just seemed to be a regurgitation of the countless other self-help books I have already read. This was the mindset I maintained until a university student from India approached me one day while I was holding the book. He asked me how I was liking it, to which I proceeded to explain my reservations. The student brought up the point that it was good the book was written so simply for it made it easier to translate into other languages. Due to this factor it became a huge seller in India; many of his own friends and family had also read it. This brief conversation shifted my opinion of the book considerably. Rather than focusing on my high expectations for the outward impact the writing presented (as in, what could this book DO for me), I realized I should instead be zeroing in on how the basic lessons of the book could greatly impact my own day to day life (as in, what can I get out of this book) – which is ultimately the point of this summer reading challenge. Shortly after this mental shift occurred I came upon the sentence: “It’s not what you get out of the book, it’s what the book gets out of you.” Those simple words became a game changer for me and, as a result, I started to take the lessons presented, simplistic as they may seem, as serious ways in which I could kick off my journey to true personal enlightenment.
My “well…shit” thoughts:
For the longest time I’ve felt tethered to my home – my “old life”. I’ve made valiant attempts to escape, start anew in another city, another life, only to follow with a triumphant return home with boomerang-like accuracy. At first I simply deduced these actions as personal obligations, my single adult/only child status giving way to the underlying expectation that I needed to be near my aging parents – that I should be close in order to help them face the trials and tribulations that come with getting older. However, despite a few health concerns and the slight slowing down of their physical bodies, my parents mental faculties have remained well-oiled – a characteristic for which I am extremely grateful for. So, looking bigger picture, if my parents don’t really need me, what else could be holding me back?
Enter a feeling of non-compliance – a strong pull towards a task not yet completed. I think I’ve made my wistful return home time and time again because I have an unidentified personal obligation to uphold. While I had originally attached such acknowledgement to the care of my parents, I am now able to comprehend that this constraint instead lies within me. I spent my younger years in search of a future that felt foreign and disconnected; pursued areas of study that weren’t necessarily of interest to me but which could have, some day, afforded me the comfort of a settled life. Arguably wiser now, I have come to appreciate that my intimate struggle of defining my life is motivated strictly by my personal passions – a drive towards true authenticity – rather than what it is expected of me given my innate talents and skills. I can now wrap my head around the fact that I have repeatedly come full circle in order to reconnect with the inherent dreams of my past. What’s different this time, however, is that the lack of clarity – no clear path, no certainty to what the future may hold – has, much to my surprise, left me filled with a contentedness and excitement beyond that which I ever held in high esteem.
In many ways I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. While Dorothy’s desired destination was home, she placed much of her faith in the great and powerful Oz, only to be disappointed in discovering his inability to be of any service – a false identity who had also lost his way. In the end, all Dorothy needed to do was tap into the desires of her own heart – it was the way out all along. Perhaps I too have continually made my pilgrimage home to latch myself back onto a long buried desire. It has become painfully clear that I need to stop searching for my own pretend, dream-granting wizard and instead reawaken the heartfelt aspirations I abandoned long ago.