In English class we recently talked and wrote about events that changed our outlook on life. While we heard and read about many interesting experiences that impacted our perception of the world we live in, we would like to share this particular one. It is both personal and uplifting at a time when we all could use a bit of cheering up. It is about the power of books and, yes, a turtle.
Fighting Lockdown Blues with the Help of a Turtle
or The Power of a Good Story
In lockdown I had some days when I couldn’t find any motivation for anything anymore. School sucked, home sucked, living in the same environment each day for months sucked. At some point I started to neglect my duties. I began to stay up late but woke up early, so I just got more and more tired which, in turn, made it even harder to focus throughout the day.
A few days or weeks passed - I actually lost track of time - and I realized that something would have to change if we really were to go on like this for another few weeks. Nonetheless, my motivation for actually working kept dwindling. So I told my mum of my personal conflict and she could perfectly relate to my situation. We talked about the rough times during the pandemic and how many people would lose their sense of belonging because they would lose themselves in their isolation.
Finally, she gave me a book she had once read. She said she couldn’t precisely remember what it was about but what she recalled was that it had taught her an important lesson. At his point I really enjoyed reading because reading was a means of staying busy other than with my phone or any other electronic device. Also, books made it possible to travel somewhere else despite Corona. The novel was called „Das Café am Rande der Welt“ or rather „The Why Café“ in English. It’s actually really popular and already lots of people had said to me that it was one of those books you should have read at least once in your life. I started it the very same day and soon realised that I simply didn’t want to put it down anymore. The book was so touching and fascinating, it almost seemed as if it was talking to me in person.
Basically, it’s about finding one’s proper way of living and the reason why one exists in this world.
It tells the story of a man who one day realises that he himself finds his life just okay, but is not really happy about it. By sheer coincidence he finds the „Why Café“ where he meets some people that help him improve his lifestyle by teaching him some important life lessons. In the end, he leaves the café questioning his general way of living and decides to take more care of his own happiness and to enjoy life as much as possible.
I finished the book in four hours and, just like my mum had claimed, felt deeply impacted by it.
One of the unforgettable images the author used to convey his message was the one of a turtle. A turtle swimming in the ocean doesn’t paddle all the time to move forward. When a wave approaches, it simply stops and floats with it. Not until the waves come back facing the ocean, does the turtle start to paddle again. Like this it uses the force of the returning flood to move as far as possible, but it does not try to swim against a wave in front of it in order to save its strength.
This image can be applied to our everyday life. If we spend our day trying to fight every single problem that comes our way, we’ll tire of this pretty soon and we’ll feel exhausted and maybe even tired off existing. Instead, we should focus on what could help us reach our goal and figure out the most effective way to get where we’d like to be.
This and much more advice on how to manage life described in this book totally changed my perception of how life should look like. Since reading the book I’ve always tried to pay attention to the fact whether I derive satisfaction from doing something. This doesn’t mean that I just stopped doing things I don’t like and which do not satisfy me. But the secret is to always have something to look forward to, something that makes you happy and to make it come true in a way that feels best for yourself. To do so, you need to trust your intuition and you need to let go of the desire for perfection because perfection is luxury. It’s more than enough to try your best.
All in all, reading „The Why Café“ made me reconsider my life and how people in general deal with the possibilities life throws at them. If I ever again feel like I felt back then in isolation, I remind myself of all the opportunities that I am given and how I should use them to make myself happy. I always try to be the best version of myself, but yet have no expectations of myself that might possibly endanger my own well-being. That’s why a day off now and again is perfectly fine, too. Because if something makes you happy, you enjoy putting effort into it which, in turn, makes you good at it.
Simply said: Happiness is the best way to success and existential satisfaction at the same time.
Text: Marlene Köllisch, MSS 11