Vishal gifted me the book ’Night Train to Lisbon’ by PascalMercier while we were in Nice, finishing our MBA. He got to know that I liked to read history, came across this book and since it is set in 1973 Portugal, got it for me. But this book is the farthest thing from a history. Still, I will thank him for giving this book to me.
Its more philosophy – about dissecting life to the bare minimum from numerous angles, about questioning every action that we do, even about adding import to the words that we use. There is a strong story that weaves the philosophy together, but at times, the doses of life lessons got a bit too much to comprehend and to focus. Here are some of my best quotes from the book:
Life is not what we live; it is what we imagine living.
Is the soul a place of facts? Or are the alleged facts only the deceptive shadows of our stories?
When others withdraw affection, respect and recognition from us, why can’t we simply say to them: ‘I don’t need all that, I am self-sufficient?’ Isn’t it a horrible form of bondage that we can’t acknowledge that? Doesn’t it make us the slaves of others? What feeling can we summon to protect ourselves?
(The random man…)What he saw of me could have revealed nothing of my self-doubting fragility, a fragility that didn’t accord much with my proud, even arrogant posture. I put myself into his look, reproduced it in me, and from that perspective, absorbed my reflection on the window glass. The way I looked and appeared – I thought – I had never been that way for a single minute of my life. … Is it the same way with others: that they do not recognize themselves from the outside? That the reflection seems like a stage set full of crass distortion? That, with fear, they note a gap between the perception that others have of them and the way they experience themselves? That the familiarity of inside and familiarity of outside can be so far apart that they can hardly be considered familiarity with the same thing? Human beings are not viewed like houses, trees and stars. They are seen with the expectation of being able to encounter them in a specific way and thus making them a part of our own imagination trims them to suit our own wishes and hopes, but also to confirm our own fears and prejudices. We don’t even get safely and impartially to the outside contours of another person. On the way, the eye is diverted and blurred by all the wishes and fantasies that make us the special, unmistakable human beings we are. Even the outside world of an inside world is still a piece of our inside world. …. Should we be grateful for the protection that guards us from the strangeness of one another? And for the freedom it makes possible? How would it be if we confronted each other unprotected by the double refraction represented by the interpreted body? If because nothing stood between us, we tumbled into each other?