The Missing Piece Meets The Big O: Summary, Meaning and 4 Life Lessons

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is a short story (conveyed through poems and drawings) written by Shel Silverstein. It was first published in 1976. The story revolves around a “Little Piece” who is looking for its perfect match that would ‘complete’ it.

“I was hoping that perhaps I could roll with you…”

“You cannot roll with me,” said the Big O, “but perhaps you can roll by yourself.”

This exchange between the Little Piece and the Big O captures the essence of a heartwarming tale of self-love and discovery in ‘Little Piece meets the Big O’ by Shel Silverstein.

He nudges us lightly to the unexplored lane of self-love. His genius lies in the simplicity with which he has relayed his heartwarming tale. Behind his simple words lies the profound truth that there is no such thing as a perfect match.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O: Summary, Meaning and Plot Analysis

The book is centered around Little Piece – who is looking for its perfect match that would complete it.

Cover of The Missing Piece Meets The Big O
Cover of The Missing Piece Meets The Big O

it saw all kinds of pieces coming up to it; some fit but couldn’t roll and some that could roll, but didn’t fit. It learned to avoid the hungry and fragile ones, found and let go of the over-analyzing ones and even tried to make itself attractive for the ones it liked.

None of that worked until it found one that fit, atleast at the start. All was well until the missing piece began to grow. Both of them were not expecting or ready for that to happen.

This was heartbreaking for the missing piece and eventually they both part ways, making the missing piece alone again. The Missing piece again finds someone that it thinks might be a perfect fit. It has now found the Big O.

It proposes to roll with it only to be told in response that it could try rolling by itself. It finds the idea strange, the idea of a pointed missing piece to be able to roll by itself, nevertheless, she tries to explore that idea and Lift-Pull-Flop… Lift-Pull-Flop…. it was able to roll by itself!

an image of a page from missing piece meets the big O

Why I love The Missing Piece Meets the Big O?

This tale is an amazing testimony to the simplicity with which Silverstein has driven the profound message home in so few words, the way he has named these characters: the Missing Piece, the Big O… it’s genius!

The number of myths that this tale has busted, the quintessential silver lining and not to forget the happy ending!

Want to read The Missing Piece Meets the Big O?

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4 Life Lessons from The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

There is no perfect match

While the missing piece feels alone waiting for something that will come along and complete itself, it inherently assumes that it is not complete by itself. It thinks that something more is needed for it to feel good about itself and it fails to look at the world without that assumption embedded in it.

How many times have we turned into a ball of wax when we see Tom Cruise confessing to Renee Zelleweger in Jerry Macguire – ‘You Complete me’?

Don’t stop trying

Other pieces took advantage, ran over her, some were too fragile to have plopped right in front of her; some it scared away with its flashy behavior, but never once did our little missing piece quit.

image of a page from the book the missing piece meets the big O
A page from The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

It kept the faith alive and even resorted to tricks to make her dream more achievable, like making itself attractive, it tried to solicit interest, it even asked people explicitly if they would take it along.

Be open to experimentation

Believe that what you end up getting might be different from what you envisioned, but in no way does it mean that what you end up with, is any less than what you had in mind before.

Every relationship, bitter or sweet, has a place in our lives

The Little Piece learnt from being ignored that it needed to do something to attract attention, when attracting too much attention, it realized that it was scaring the shy ones away.

When trying to appear attractive, it realized that it was taken advantage of and while Big O didn’t take it along with her, it learned the very important lesson of self-discovery and contentment.

Every experience, bitter or sweet makes us better.And what does not kill us makes us stronger.

We might start off in a relationship believing firmly in our hearts that this is the best and that nothing could go wrong with it. This may not be the case, as many of us discover in the course of our lives.

People grow out of their relationships… that’s the truth. While this realization is painful, it nevertheless makes us prepared to take our lives forward. Preparedness facilitates coping.

Albert Einstein once famously remarked “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

He might very well be referring to Shel Silverstein.

Who Moved My Cheese: Summary, Plot Analysis and 3 Reasons To Love It

Who Moved My Cheese is a short story written by Spencer Johnson. It was first published in 1998. It is a motivational story about 4 characters – two of them are mice and two are humans (of very small size). It highlights the importance of anticipating change, adapting to one’s environment and not taking things for granted.

“The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”

Too simple a truth, eh? For cheese and non-cheese lovers alike ! In his world renowned book ‘Who moved my Cheese’ Dr Spencer Johnson treats us with many simple truths like these, leaving us wondering – how could a business self help book be such that it applies to all areas of our life, and doing that in a language that may seem too simple but one that is still  heavy with abundance of life-changing truths.

Let’s jump right in.

Who Moved My Cheese: Summary and Plot Analysis

The story revolves around four characters- Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry and the other two are humans , about the size of mice themselves, called Hem and Haw. They live in a maze and depend on cheese for their survival.

In their cheese hunt, they chance upon a spot with supply of cheese enough to last their lifetime, they end up spending a lot of time there.

While the mice are agile and ready to move when the cheese disappears, the humans are stuck in their old ways, All they do is simply take the cheese for granted, sit back and brag about it.

Eventually cheese runs out.

book cover of who moved my cheese
Cover of Who Moved My Cheese?

While the mice moved on to find new cheese, Hem and Haw, too set in their old habits, are afraid of what lies out there in the maze and simply complain about them deserving more after all of their hard work.

Too scared to set out, Hem and Haw start blaming each other for their troubles. Over a period of time, Haw gets smarter and decides to explore the maze for more cheese.

Finding that Hem is hesitant to come along, Haw continues to explore further, leaving a trail of messages for Hem, if he ever decides to follow him.

Eventually, he does find a ton of cheese , deep in the maze only to find Sniff and Scurry there already. Learning from his past, Haw is now a vigilant explorer, he monitors the current cheese supply to avoid the same fiasco from happening again. He decides it best for Hem to explore by himself to find his way to him.

3 Reasons to love Who Moved My Cheese?

1 – Where you are and where you will be is your own doing

Times got tough for all four of them. They were all faced with the same challenge. Was the result same for all four? No!

Why?

Because each of them chose to respond to the situation in a different way. While Hem and Haw were busy in their blame games and petty squabbles, Sniff and Scurry were already resting with their newfound cheese chest. Haw finally did see the error of his ways and changed eventually to find himself rewarded, who’s to say what happened to our poor old Hem?

2 – Complacency is your worst enemy

Times do get easy and that’s when our worst enemy, complacency, strikes! We are blinded by comfort to an extent that nothing else is visible- even the dangers staring at us right in the face.

Amy Lowell, American Poet, was right on point when she said –‘ Happiness, to some, elation; Is, to others, mere stagnation.’

3 – Stay aware, Be Prepared

Stay away from ‘Bury your head in the sand’ syndrome. The first step in the preparation is to acknowledge that there is a need to change.Like Sniff and Scurry, be aware that the cheese could disappear and you might need to explore and find novel ways to get to the new and better cheese.

7 Wall Writings from Who Moved My Cheese?

The simplicity of this book is priceless. Consider, for instance, the lessons that Haw writes on the wall for Hem.

1 – Change Happens They Keep Moving The Cheese

Change is everywhere- work, home, our communities, you name it . Heraclites – the Greek philosopher – wasn’t wrong when he said “nothing is permanent but change.”

2 – Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Cheese To Move

Regardless of us seeing change everywhere, how often are we caught by surprise? How often do we see ourselves complaining about it?

3 – Monitor Change Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old

Are we ever proactive enough to see what lies ahead and what the impending change might entail for us?

4 – Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

Are we ready to make a move when the change happens? Are we prepared?

5 – Change Move With The Cheese

Are we changing ? Are we ready to reroute our actions around what the change calls for?

6 – Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

It could be difficult adjusting to change, let alone enjoy it at times, But are we those
nimble agile kind of people that can actually savour change?

7 – Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Are we ready to change again and faster the next time?

So, we have Sniff and Scurry and Hem and Haw…. which one of those are you?

The Seven Lady Godivas: Summary, Plot Analysis and the Reason You’ll Love It

The Seven Lady Godivas is an adult illustrated novel – written and illustrated by Dr Seuss – that was originally published in 1939 and then republished in 1987. The novel tells the story of seven Godiva sisters, none of whom ever wear clothing. Wacky, scandalous and oddly unerotic despite the sketches of the nude ladies scattered all over the book, this novel would still make you wonder if you ever actually outgrew Dr. Seuss.

“You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”

I am sure you have heard of this, but did you know that it is one of “horse truths”?

Confused, eh?

Enter Dr Seuss with his adult illustrated novel The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family. The novel that was first published way back in 1939, provides an account of seven lady Godivas in 11th century Coventry in attempt to explore (horseplay around) the origins of celebrated proverbs – “horse truths” in Seuss’ lingo.

He declares very early on in the book that ‘there was not one but seven lady Godivas and their nakedness was not actually a thing of shame” referring to the English woman Lady Godiva from the early 11th century that rode naked on the streets to gain a remission on Earl’s (her husband’s) exploitative tax practices.

Wacky, scandalous and oddly unerotic (despite the sketches of the nude ladies scattered all over the book), this novel would still make you wonder if you ever actually outgrew Dr. Seuss.

It’s interesting to note that the novel wasn’t successful when it was first launched way back in 1939. In fact, only 2500 copies from the initial print run of 10000, were sold, leading to Seuss calling it his ‘greatest failure’.

the book cover of the seven lady godivas novel
The cover of “The Seven Lady Godivas”

Sometimes the abundance of the sketches of the nude ladies does seem like a cheap titillating tactic, but believe me, this book is more than that.

You just got to put your ‘horse sense’ to work.

The Seven Lady Godivas: Summary and Plot Analysis

Lord Godiva of Coventry has deep admiration for his seven daughters, who do not wear clothes because ‘they chose not to disguise what they are’. He summons them to the castle to bid them goodbye before his departure for the battle of Hastings on a horseback which leaves the sisters nervous considering that the beast hasn’t been tamed yet.

Rightly so, they are proven right in a few moments when the horse Nathan throws him off itself – leading to the man’s instant death.

The sisters vow to study and chart horses and refrain from marriage till each one of them have a horse truth, a truth that makes horses safe for posterity.

This leaves the ‘Peeping’ brothers, the ones dating the seven lady godivas with nothing but a long wait ahead of them. The sisters set off for the truth one after the other and through a series of adventures and misfortunes, eventually come to an understanding about how this majestic beast operates.

Every proverbs that you may have heard till date, including ‘don’t put a cart before a horse’, ‘never change horses in the middle of the stream’ and so on… you would be truly amazed to see how Dr. Seuss has spun up stories around the proverbs to make sense of them.

Want to read The Seven Lady Godivas?

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Why I Love The Seven Lady Godivas

On the surface this book might seem like a very simple tale, maybe even a little sleazy looking at the illustrations, but beware, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Dive a little deeper and there are parallels that we can draw between the horse truths and our own, and how each of the godiva ladies and their adventures to find the horse truths, have a hidden message somewhere.

Sometimes serious and sometimes downright funny. Consider Dorcas Godiva for example, she thinks she must research her subject extensively and approach it a scientific way to pave a straight forward but sure shot way to get to her horse truth fast.

After trying a variety of options with the horse cart and being engaged in the “in the greatest horse-and-tree conflict that Coventry has ever known.”, she comes to realize – ‘never put a cart before a horse’.

So many times, in our lives we are so focused on the results that we end up underplaying the importance of our means to get there, only to realize in the aftermath that our mad race screwed up our priorities somewhere along the way.

Consider Arabella Godiva on the other hand, in her quest to uncover her horse truth, she overworks her horse so much that he ends up becoming a drunken bum. And when she stages an intervention by making him drink water from the pump, guess what?

The horse says-“I’ll die before I touch it.” And he does.

Does it remind you of a friend or a loved one that was completely unresponsive to your pleas to ‘do it in moderation’?

How many times have you felt the frustration of ‘sermon’-ing when there was no
response on the other sides.

The characters themselves are a window to the variety of people that we meet in our daily lives and depending on our preferences, we associate with.

Consider Lord Godiva, a liberal but an unprepared moron, Teenie Godiva, an overweight and a curious lady that took her chances even when the going was grim, Dorcas Godiva, uncertainty-averse and a meticulously prepared woman, Hedwig Godiva , an incredibly loyal , dedicated and tenacious woman that didn’t take short cuts, and wanted to do things the right away.

They all remind us of someone… or maybe ourselves.

We all have a little godiva in us, don’t we?

The Painted Veil: Summary, Review and 3 Things To Love About it

The Painted Veil is a novel written by W Somerset Maugham in 1925. The novel also inspired a 2006 drama movie of the same name (starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts). It is a story of love, betrayal, hatred, revenge and redemption.

“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.”

Does this quote sound familiar?

It’s from The Painted Veil – a novel by Somerset Waugham published back in 1925.

This amazing tale of the ultimate triumph of love will take you on a roller-coaster ride of a range of human emotions – love, betrayal, hatred, revenge and redemption – none of which is any less than the other in intensity.

The Painted Veil: Story and Summary

The story revolves around Kitty Garstin, an outgoing upper middle class socialite and Walter Fane, an introvert bacteriologist and physician.

Kitty, much to the chagrin of her mother, has declined marriage proposal from quite a few prospective gentlemen.

Her mother now considering her ‘off-market’ convinces her to accept marriage proposal from Walter Fane, to which she half-heartedly agrees to avoid being upstaged by her comparably plain sister Doris. The newly married couple leave for Hong Kong shortly after.

Walter, a meticulous and principled man, is a devoted lover while Kitty is callous and indifferent to him.

It is not long before she gets attracted to Charlie Townsend, a tall, urbane and charming man and begins an affair with him.

Walter ultimately finds about Kitty’s infidelity and doesn’t confront either Charlie or Kitty, both of whom mistake it for his cowardice.

Kitty begins to despise Walter even more, but notices that there is an ominous change in his behavior towards her.

Walter ultimately asks Kitty to accompany him to Hong-Kong, she rejects the idea and conveys that she better be with Charles than accompany him.

the painted veil book cover
Cover of The Painted Veil. The novel inspired a 2006 Hollywood movie of the same name. It starred Edward Norton and Naomi Watts.

Kitty, upon being turned away by Charlie, heartbroken and disillusioned, sets out to Hong Kong with Walter. Initially bitter with the rejection, Kitty tries to contact
Charles to no avail.

She increasingly finds herself in the company of Waddington, who inadvertently ends up exposing Charles’ character.

While Walter completely dedicates his time to researching for the cure for Cholera-endemic, Kitty begins to discover his character and compassion in a whole new light, through her own observations and through the words of nuns and Mother Superior at the local church.

As the strained relationship between the two start to show the first signs of repair, Kitty now discovers that she is pregnant but not sure about the father of the child.

This time she is honest with Walter and lets him know.

Through an unfortunate turn of events, Walter falls ill and eventually succumbs to Cholera, with Kitty by his side.

While on her way back to Britain, she gets to know that her mother died. She persuades her father to allow her to accompany him to Bahamas, where she looks forward to raising her child.

3 Reasons You Might Love The Painted Veil

This book is an amazing read. I absolutely love it!

Granted that this view from a hopeless romantic can be biased on a topic concerning romance, but hey! I like this book for reasons more than that.

The book touched a lot of themes, the ones that stood out for me:

1 –  The characters are flawed

Kitty is the first character that comes to mind when I think of flaws, but if I scratch the surface a bit more, Walter does not lag far behind. While Kitty obviously crossed the line on occasions more than one, with infidelity and blatant disregard to Walter’s love for her, Walter upon discovering Kitty’s infidelity turns as un-Walter-esque as possible.

2 – A mismatched couple: Marriages can be challenging!

This one was not a surprise, considering how much I see this around me. Although it was clear from the start that Kitty had no remarkable affection for Walter. Walter on the other hand, fully aware of her shallowness, still was in love with her.

The marriage slowly started unfolding as both of them found it difficult to give up on the addiction to their own selves, by doing which they fill their relationship with
spite.

Kitty, a product of elite London society finds it difficult to understand her awkward bacteriologist husband. Their background, if anything, makes it difficult for the couple to have commonalities, driving them further apart.

3 – Forgiveness is key

Regardless of all the possible flaws their relationship – the shallowness, the infidelity, the mismatched ideals in life, opposite backgrounds- Walter and Kitty eventually did find a way to forgive each other. Both of them had to go on a painful journey of self-discovery to come together at the end.

Forgiveness couldn’t be stressed enough, and this does not just stand true for a romantic relationship. It’s funny how easy it is for us to hold grudges even when it means letting go of a relationship that may have meant so much to us in the past. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, forgiveness being the glue that it holds it together.

In the words of Mark Twain

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it”

Want to read The Painted Veil?

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Some common questions related to The Painted Veil

What is The Painted Veil metaphor for?

In the novel, the veil represents the set of beliefs that people live by. It’s a comforting illusion that impacts the way we see and perceive others. But when others behave in a way that is not consistent with what we perceive of them, our belief is shattered and the veil is torn apart.

What does The Painted Veil mean?

At a wedding, the veil is white, which represents the innocence and purity of the wearer. As the title of the novel suggests, the veil is painted, which implies that the wearer is not innocent any more. The novel takes a dig at how our society and the people that live in it are tainted.

Is The Painted Veil a true story?

There’s no proof that The Painted Veil  is a true story. It is a fictionalized account of a young English couple and their journey through a myriad of emotional difficulties and life’s turbulence.

Was Somerset Maugham a spy?

Somerset Maugham, the writer of The Painted Veil, was a member of Britain Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). He was recruited by an intelligence officer after his first novel had just been published. The officer suggested that Maugham’s knowledge of the German language and his reputation as a writer would be a perfect cover for his spying activities for the English.

 

 

The Old Man and The Sea: Summary, Analysis and Review

The Old Man and the Sea is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway. It was first published in 1951. It is a story of an old fisherman named Santiago who catches an enormous marlin (a type of fish) far out in the sea only to lose it and the pain that accompanies that loss.

“Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”

This statement by the old man from the Old Man and the Sea sums up the essence of this tale of poignant yet uncelebrated heroism in the face of a series of misfortunes.

old man and the sea novel cover
The cover of The Old Man and The Sea

This is one of the best works on Ernest Hemingway, touted as the major contributor towards him being awarded the nobel prize. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this novel.

To think of it, isn’t it ironical that a man’s story of a soul-wrenching loss got Hemingway the noblest prize of his life time?

The Old Man and the Sea: Summary and Plot Analysis

The protagonist Santiago is a fisherman, who is considered the most unlucky man of the village, having gone for months without catching a fish, so much so that people do not want to be associated with him, lest his bad luck rubs off on them.

This includes his former apprentice – a young boy called Manolin who has deserted him for a better, prosperous ship.

He carries the albatross of misfortune around his neck.

This apathy and distrust, however does not deter him from fishing. Rather on the contrary, he sets out to the open sea – off Florida coast – and goes farther than he usually does – in an attempt to catch fish.

He does catch one – only to find that the fish is far too big for him to handle by himself.

Restricted by resources and his old flailing body, but backed by years of experience fishing, Santiago decides to delay killing the fish, betting on his patience – he lets the line go slack, only to find himself being dragged out to the sea for three days.

He eventually feels as if he has developed a sense of kinship with this creature he has set his mind to kill.

marlin fish
Marlin – a species of fish

The fish eventually grows tired, which is when Santiago kills it. This magnanimous catch is still too early for the victory trumpets.

Santiago decides to drag the fish behind the boat. This proves not only to be a failure but dangerous – in the sense that the blood of the dead fish, attracts sharks to the boat.

Not only is there no hope to take the fish with him, which the sharks were feasting big portions of, flanking his ship from all directions , his life is also threatened.

The sharks eventually discard the ship, but not before every piece of flesh from the giant Marlin is gone, leaving behind a skeleton of his prized catch. The shark took away the fish and last remnants of any hope that the old man felt in his heart.

There is, however, a silver lining to this heroic yet grim tale of the old man, when looking at the big skeleton of fish on his boat, people seemed to have changed their perception of him and Manolin offers to fish with him again.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Want to read The Old Man and The Sea?

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The Old Man and The Sea: Review and My Thoughts

Old Man and the Sea is one of the most famous works by Ernest Hemingway.

Deceptively simple on the surface, this is a testimony to the vagaries of human spirit – a tale of bravery, heroism, optimism, pessimism and an old man’s struggle against the elements and his own demons.

This novel is an old man’s dance with success and failure taking turns, but throughout it, shines the human quality of perseverance and the man’s undying effort to fight against the elements and his own doubts.

What is the main theme of the Old Man and the Sea?

As Hemingway shows the old man fighting with the Mighty Merlin, holding the rope with every single morsel of strength his flailing body could muster, ignoring the cuts, the pain, the hunger and the sleep – fighting the mighty creature as if something more than his life was at stake, we are simply left to wonder how powerful a simple man can be, with the simplest of resources in the simplest of habitats.

That you can be more than what you think you are only when you think and accept that in your heart.

Its simple yet very profound- the realization that how the prospect of a looming death, whether of the body or the spirit – can leave a man invigorated, or rather much more powerful than before. This small novel from Hemingway is a tribute to the human spirit – with all its abilities – for its ability to feel love and jump back from loss- ever so powerful.

That, human at one with nature, is a magnificent beast that stands tall and bows down to nothing – not its own mortality and not to the magnificent demons of his own mind. We are all heroes of our own epic struggles – which we lose or we win every single day of our lives.

Scarred maybe, yet ever hopeful.

And yes, the old man was right when he said “Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: Summary, Analysis and 3 Life Lessons

The Metamorphosis is a short story (novella) written by Franz Kafka. It was published in 1915. It was originally published in German and its title was Die Verwandlung. It is a story of a salesman named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one day to find that he has mysteriously transformed into an insect.

Franz Kafka, in his remarkable short story ‘The Metamorphosis’, takes you for a stroll into a world that is mundane yet surreal, absurd yet intriguing, defining a writing style much known and admired as Kafka-esque.

The Metamorphosis Summary

The story revolves around the Samsa family with Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman and the sole breadwinner for the family, as our protagonist.

He wakes up late one morning dreading the repercussions of not showing up at work on time, only to discover that he has somehow changed into a monstrous vermin.

the cover of the metamorphosis

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” Gregor thinks to himself.

He has lost all his ability to communicate with humans, which is extremely unsettling and unreal to him. His transformation is later discovered by his family members, and eventually his manager who had come to enquire about his whereabouts earlier that day.

The manager scared out of his wits upon seeing Gregor in his new form, immediately flees, while the family is left to grapple with the enormity of this new problem at hand.

Having been shoved and locked into his own room, Gregor gradually progresses from a state of disbelief (thinking that a good night’s sleep is going to make it all go away), to a reluctant acceptance of his new reality.

On the other side of the wall, the family was similarly horrified and perplexed about what the future held for them, with their son and his earnings out of the picture and what people would think, if their new misfortune came to be known to the world outside.

Gregor and the family, after a painful yet short phase of acceptance, begin to settle into a routine over the following weeks and months.

Gregor discovers his new form, his likes and dislikes. His newfound love for things rotten, which is confusing to his old self, but essential for his sustenance.

Grete, his sister and the only individual he feels still understands him, assumes the role of his primary caretaker, feeding him and cleaning his room.

In a series of events that follow, Gregor finds himself paralyzed by his father’s attack, limiting his capability to move. He slowly sees the growing family indifference towards him. He even sees her beloved sister’s changing behaviour towards him.

This starts his gradual descent to hopelessness and he starts to lose appetite for food and life.

A very short-lived respite for Gregor comes in the form of music when his sister plays violin for the guests/boarders. Gregor, inherently drawn to it, moves towards the living area and brings himself in full view of the boarders, the boarders now horrified, give their notice to the family to leave without payment.

Absolutely horrified by this turn of events, Grete, now vehemently opposes the idea of Gregor continuing to live in the house.

How does Gregor die in the Metamorphosis?

Gregor’s despair hits rock bottom, as his sister, the one he held dearest was now against him. He resigns himself to his room, famished and hopeless, never to see light of another day.

The family, when informed of his demise the following day, asks the guests to leave and takes a trip to the country only to find their new life purpose of finding a husband for Grete.

Although I started off reading the story with a sense of disbelief in the initial pages, I found myself hooked as it progressed, touched to the extent that I was visibly disturbed by the end.

Want to read The Metamorphosis?

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3 Life Lessons from The Metamorphosis

Although this story left me in pensive mode for quite a few days after I was finished , I could not help but notice that there are so many hidden lessons to learn from.

1 – Respect yourself

However clichéd it might sound, but a healthy self-respect for ourselves is vital for happiness and contentment. If we let other’s perceptions of us define what we think we are, how different are we from Gregor?

two hands holding yellow flower
If you don’t respect yourself, others have a hard time respecting you.

2 – Live in the present

Considering that Kafka wrote this story close to a century ago, It is scary how relatable this is. Gregor was always worried about his future, always worried for not being able to provide for his loved ones, so much so that he didn’t get time to even engage in a decent relationship,

Also when faced with the grim form he saw himself in, his first reaction was not something to help himself, but was to get to work as soon as he could. How many of us have seen Gregors like that around us, at workplace or otherwise?

3 – Love unconditionally

The first reaction that Gregor’s family has upon his transformation was isolating him to avoid him getting exposed and bringing a bad name for the family. He was shown love and consideration at very few occasions, far and sparse, if at all we could call it love,

When faced with a fearful situation, we always look to be comforted by the ones that we hold closest. When not finding solace there, it is natural to quickly fall into the depression trap.

So when we love unconditionally, we are not just doing a great service to the loved one but also to ourselves.

 

Snowflakes Vs My Eyes

Carl Reiner once said – “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”

I found it very un-romantic, who does not like snow!

The soft white bliss from the heavens to the earth in addition to being the perfect snow fights memory maker. After all, didn’t Markus Zusak (the author of The Book Thief) call a snowball in the face to be the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship?

Those were times, when I was enjoying my childhood in pure tropical bliss. At that point in my life, nothing was worse than a 40 degree Celsius. I used to dream about visiting a country where I could actually see snow in person, not on the screens.

Those were the only dreams that filled my days and nights.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I found myself in a cold country – cold and beautiful. My dreams finally decided to meet me in person. And guess what, like a crazy barking lunatic, I ran out at the first glimpse of snow – short of singing and dancing, giggling like a schoolgirl.

Your first snow is like your first love, that’s what they say. That’s exactly what it is. Your second love might be Barack Obama, the coolest of them all, but guess what? You are always going to sneak into your ‘first-love-memory-corner’ every now and then.

Long story short – snow started to look less and less dreamy as the years passed by – to the extent that I have actually started dreading a snow forecast now. Somehow, snowflakes now have the precision to hit my eyeballs as soon as I step out. Smack dab in the middle of my eye!

Have the snowflakes trained their algorithm for an eye ball landing over the years? Or were they always precise from the start or did I choose to ignore them earlier and just danced and sang like an idiot in the rain?

Is it the snowfall or is it me?

Do I agree with Carl Reiner now?

Hell yeah!

Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Summary and Plot Analysis

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a short novel (or novella) written by Richard Bach in the 1960s. It is a story of a seagull whose name is Jonathan Livingston who is trying to perfect the art of flying.

Over the years, this novel has become a classic and is often considered one of the best inspirational or motivational books ever written.

Who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is written by Richard Bach.

Interestingly, it was not written as one complete novel initially; Bach wrote it as a series of short stories which was published in a magazine called “Flying” in the later half of 1960s.

Then, the series of short stories was compiled by Richard Bach and was first released as a book in 1970. The book was illustrated by Russell Munson.

jonathan livingston seagull book cover
Cover of Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Within a few years of publication, Jonathan Livingston Seagull became a best seller and sold millions of copies and became known worldwide.

Who is Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Jonathan Livingston is the name of the protagonist of book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He is a seagull who tries to perfect the art of flying.

The name of the novel is also the name of the protagonist of the novel’s story.

Book Summary: What is Jonathan Livingston Seagull about?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book by Richard Bach is a story about a seagull’s unbounded passion for flight despite rebuke from his clan, his friends and his most loved ones. His perseverance, and his unquenchable thirst for achieving perfection. Touted as One of the 50 timeless spiritual classics , you will be amazed how he has put this profound truth in such simple words.

Our seagull is bored with the mundane struggle for food every day and disheartened by the lack lustre passion-less lives the seagulls around him love and expect him to conform to. The lack of encouragement from his fellow folk does not deter him from following his passion and he continually keeps pushing himself to learn all he can about flying.

This lack of conforming to the norms does not go down well with his folks and he is subsequently expelled from the flock, bringing shame to his family. A new outcast but free nonetheless, he continues to learn, coming closer and closer to his goal of achieving perfection.

This skill acquired with practice brings him immense joy and resulting contentment in his life.Although alone now, he is a happy seagull.

One fine day, two seagulls meet him and tell him of a better world found through perfection of knowledge, he meets a fellow seagull that has the same passion for flight as himself. His dedication and love for the craft makes him a very distinguished bird and Jonathan prides himself in the fact.

white seagull flying over blue water
Jon’s dedication and love for the craft makes him a very distinguished bird. (Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay)

Here Jonathan makes friends with a wise gull that reveals to him the secret of
instantaneous movement anywhere in the world, Jonathan marvels at this skill, eventually acquires it and is humbled by his knowledge. He has acquired what he wants , but still feels empty.

Jonathan now feels the urge to return to earth to find others like himself to tell them what he’d learned and to spread his love for flight. He is successful in this endeavor and soon finds himself around other outcast but passionate seagulls.

The first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, is quick to grasp learnings from Jonathan and ultimately becomes a teacher in his own right. Jonathan leaves to teach other flock thus spreading his love for the flight and the timeless truth of
limitless human potential.

Life lessons from Jonathan Livingston Seagull

“He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.

“Set aside,” came a voice from the multitude, “even if it be the Law of the Flock?”

“The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”

Of all the great things Jonathan Livingston seagull has said in Richard Bach’s book of the same name, this speaks the most to me.

To me Jonathan Livingston seagull brings 3 life lessons:

1- Our potential is limited only to the extent we let it to be

And I do not mean in ‘we as humans use only 10% of our potential’ way, but more often than not, we are limited by our perception of what we are capable of achieving. Changing that mindset is solely under our control. Why should we let someone else tell us what we can and can’t do?

Remember Chris from the movie ‘Pursuit of Happyness’? The scene where he tells his son, “Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me. …’.

That about sums it up.

2- Find your passion and be relentless in your pursuit of it

Our seagull Jonathan was exemplary in illustrating that sometimes following our passions can take us away from places and people that we hold dear, but in no way did that deter him from following his passion, or giving it his all. It’s because at the end of the day, he was answerable to himself. And so are we.

To quote Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. Being loyal to our passion brings us
profound happiness and contentment and that’s the state that we all ultimately strive for. Don’t we?

3- Pay it Forward

Jonathan didn’t just stop at achieving perfection, he took it a step further. He thought it best that learnings be shared with others, to let them know that we can think beyond our present circumstances for a blissful future.

It may not be entirely selfless given that there is a significant upliftment we feel when we help others , but Hey! its feeding two birds with one scone.

I cannot help but quote Film critic Roger Ebert who praised the book by saying ” the book was so banal that it had to be sold to adults; kids would have seen through it.”

Food for thought.

Want to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is available on Amazon if you want to get yourself this book. You can use the links given below to check the price of this book:

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What You Seek Is Seeking You: What Exactly Does It Mean?

‘What you seek is seeking you’- The magnanimity of this short yet power packed quip never ceases to amaze me . Just like wine, they say, the older it gets, the better it becomes.

I often imagine Rumi just walking in the glorious Iranian bazaar , wondering and muttering to himself, randomly looking at the sky when this thought must have struck him like a bolt of lightening, I wonder if it made him look at his life in the rearview mirror or if he started connecting the dots in his life backwards, the famous Steve-Jobs style.

I have played that scenario of his enlightenment in my mind in a thousand different variations, never been able to zero down on one, but the realization itself has been nothing short of life – transforming for me.

It often gets me thinking for long periods of time, sometimes unknowingly having my gaze fixed on a stranger in a café, where a flurry of questions zigzagging through my head in random Brownian motion: What did I seek in the past? What am I seeking now? What am I going to be seeking in future? What am I seeking? And most importantly Why am I seeking what I am seeking? ( A little episode of brain fog ensues….)jigsaw puzzle.jpg

And like a jigsaw puzzle , a variety of colors and shapes appear in front of my glazy eyes- only in the form of experiences making it feel like a little time machine experimentation. In this case, more often than not, my personal time machine seems to be eternally rigged to go looking for stuff in the past. I call it the Past Ninja. A deaf past-Ninja, A tunnel-vision-Deaf-Past-Ninja.

Anyway, So here am I-A kid, drooling for icecream all the time and that’s the single most important non-living object in my life and guess what a bunch of relatives make sure that those icecream companies are never out of business and my current frocks always seems one size short.

I was seeking icecream while latent obesity was seeking me. Fast forward to High school library, like every text book nerd, I am pouring over books in my one size short frocks (having realized over the years that ice-creams are faster than willpower) processing books as if from an assembly line, and shuddering at the sound of footsteps coming in my direction, lest those footsteps carry a mouth that doesn’t want to stop talking and even more so if they wanted to talk to me instead of the hottie next seat.As I sought books, they somehow swarmed to me even more, creating a seemingly protective wall around me, blocking out small talk and ‘strangers’ who were in the same class as me. I have a lot of friends, only that they are not physical people (they are only in my head). I am best friends with JK Rowling, Earnest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Somerset Maugham and Jerome K Jerome to name a few.While I was trying to avoid the physical noise of the footsteps approaching me, there was
something else that was seeking me, and those were the characters that were seeking me.Cut to the present me, working a corporate job with the same innate tendency to avoid small talk, judging myself for every smile I fake and expression-less greetings that I get from my ‘stranger’ colleagues. Every now and then , in one of those afternoon meetings, my mind can not keep off from wandering to the same sand as Rumi’s.What have I sought all my life – has actually sought me, not in the exact form I expected it to be , but in a slightly twisted yet interesting way, and I am thankful that it is that way. Otherwise, where’s the fun in life?(More on that some other day)All of that random musing to say, in my opinion, what we seek always seeks us- albeit sometimes exactly the way we see it and sometimes in the complete opposite way. Sometimes comprehensible and sometimes the London-city-jigsaw -puzzle way. But guess what?Dots do connect backwards and if you take the same rigged time machine as me for a journey to your past, you will hopefully discover some pattern in your own existence. Maybe your Rumi is a cool beefy guy roaming shirtless at a beach in Barcelona.

Oh wait, I started projecting again!