I have understood one thing lately, that there is no better way to look at oneself than in a way, where we could laugh at our own self. I realised this when a friend recently told me that Proust reminded her of me and showed me a video that tickled my funny bone !! Marcel Proust is a novelist (1930), the author of the seven volumes collectively called" In Search of Lost Time" which is considered a masterpiece because of the underlying philosophy of how to really appreciate life even in the little things. You might wonder what is funny about this outrageous comparison!
I must be excused as I was hearing about Proust for the first time and what I really saw in the video about Proust rather than making me heady with pride showed me something to laugh at..at him and myself. The video of how Proust can change your life conveyed to me certain things about Proust that I accepted that there was a similarity. Although my friend meant that Proust's and my thinking process seemed similar, the similarity I saw, however, was a bit different.
Proust's book describes small things at great lengths and so it is suggested that one could read it only if confined to bed with illness or a broken leg with simply "NOTHING" else to do. Yeah I have sometimes had to hold my friends by the neck and shove my writings down their throats. In the video Proust is shown cutting some portions of a page and sticking it somewhere else. Well if he really was the compulsive editor like me, I am infinitely more lucky, I have the computer! Proust is shown questioning a diplomat regarding the minutest details of his routine interrupting from time to time to make him elaborate where he might have rushed past. It was the diplomats expressions this time that made me laugh. Yeah I guess I have managed that expression onto some of my close friends' faces!
Later after I read the book 'Proust can change your life' by Alain De Botton, I could see what I might have discussed with my friend that led to such a linking! However outrageous it may sound, there were certain ideas that felt similar, like the "importance of not fully getting what one wants" as an essential ingredient to be happy. Apart from that, maybe the detached way of dealing with certain topics was a similarity, and especially I think the understanding that no book is complete in itself and we have to depend on our own intuition (according to Proust in a book we may discover our own unexpressed thoughts but these may not be complete in itself without some personal editing). But unlike Proust I don't really indulge my whole self in the minutest details of living like sipping a cup of coffee! I am more hurried. Also unlike Proust I don't think what I write is what I couldn't make use of in real life (However audacious I might sound.) I write mainly because writing benefits me by helping me think clearer and find solutions that take me towards a better direction whereas for Proust his wisdom probably reconciled him to his suffering which (for more or less understandable reasons) he couldn't change.
But what I rather admired is the treatment of Proust by Alain De Botton. He told us how serious people can be so funny. What I took from Alain De Botton is the understanding that what we need is to laugh affectionately at others and ourselves and take each person, their qualities, their faults, less seriously.
Alain De Botton speaks in Ted Talk about his philosophy of success in which what attracted me, was his view on modern society, of how it has become centered on the self. We seek out nature not for health but because we want to run away from the human anthill, from our dramas, we do want to be centered on something that is not human. Yes, It does appear that we have become more serious than we need to be about ourselves.
This touched me more as I had just come back from a nature experience, away from traffic, away from the computer, away from the serials I follow; watching the slow unhurried existence of nature in the Vidarbh region of Maharashtra, where in its windy air unwillingly trying a hand at the kite flying suddenly lifted my spirits when the kite did really take off! It lifted also the drooping corners of my mouth as it brought back the child in me. The rest of the days there, all I wanted to really do was learn to fly a kite, quite like the unthinking, unhurried little child who would take her own sweet time for a wasteful activity. Proust would have nodded his approval.
Anyway who really knows what is important enough to do in life. I guess as long as 'I' am not so important, anything could be worth wasting time on...