A funny thing happened yesterday. I mentioned a book I was reading to a bunch of people (all readers themselves). Titled “Beyond The Limits“, the book is about Bruce Lee and the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. (I posted a review on this blog earlier in the day). The conversation veered towards making fun of the book, Bruce Lee, Ip Man (his teacher), and myself as well.
Two things struck me about this incident. One, if a topic is not of interest, or the other readers have not read this particular book, or have no intention of ever reading it, what was the need to dismiss the book, or the personality it features, or the person recommending it? A justification was made of not knowing much about Lee. In case of which, wouldn’t it make more sense to actually read the book, or anything else about the legend, instead of soaking in ignorance and being proud of it? There were comparisons made with Karate, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, MMA, along with other sports persons brought in, as well as friends and relatives of the readers who practice these arts, while I kept reiterating the book is about the philosophy that formed the basis of Lee’s teachings, not a textbook on martial arts. Every time, only the physical aspect of the art was brought into the discussion, which is the very thing Bruce Lee considered not as a separate entity, but integrated with philosophy.
Secondly, there were snide remarks of me displaying a lack of humility, all because I happened to be reading a book about a martial artist (who was much more than that), and happen to be involved in sports. The link of which made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever! I was referred to as “sensei” and asked to “bestow my wisdom about the karate language” (whatever that is supposed to mean!) The book is not about karate, or even about fighting for that matter, and the theme I was trying to explain was completely lost on the readers. And even if I do read books on martial arts, or even marathon running, or swimming, or any other activity, that does not imply I am bragging about that particular activity. Books are a source of knowledge – I can read about activities I indulge in (running, dancing, Capoeira), and even ones that I don’t (horse riding, paddling, chess). How does that relate to being pompous?
Along with the “lack of humility”, another point put across was me not having a sense of humor. All because I don’t find it funny when my reading choices are being questioned and mocked. Aren’t books written for everyone? What genre pleases one might not suit another. No one particular book makes one reader better than another.
What got me thinking about this discussion was why should we have reservations based on what others think of us or think they know about us? From experience I have learnt that the very people who try and pull you down are suffering from their own insecurities. Hence, the ego boost from belittling another. And then there are those who I call the “minions” – not the real bullies, but the ones who hang on to every word of the latter and egg them on cheerfully, because they want to see you fall as well, but are too scared to say it out loud themselves. And these are the very people who later ask how you accomplished something. Because while you were working your way up, they were busy dragging others down.
Ironically, it was Bruce Lee’s wisdom that got me through the day. Being the first day of the year, I was quite miffed with all the negativity. And that too where books are concerned, that’s my happy space which I wouldn’t like intruded. Though Lee had a short life, we was wise beyond his years. “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not“, could not have come at a better time, guiding me away from the meaningless discussion. “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of“, took me out of the conversation, focusing instead on actually reading the book and imbibing his teachings. “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself” taught me to not be swayed by the dismissals of others. “Life is too short for negative energy“, showed me how to stay away from negativity, and in turn gave me a fabulous start to the new year (which was quite bleak due to the entire degrading episode).