I’ve always liked reading fiction, because how many things can possibly top the ability to escape into another world within mere seconds? Precious little, I reckon.
What I especially appreciate is how there are also many nuggets of wisdom contained within the pages of fiction (or their adaptations), if we care to look. Here are some great ones for you to chew on and take with you as you figure out how to life*. I’m sure they’ll come in handy at some point!
*Of course, all intepretations are my own and everyone can have different takeaways. Feel free to share with us what yours are!
1) Newt Scamander to Jacob Kowalski in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
We all know that worrying is silly, but stopping ourselves from doing it can be incredibly hard. Let the charming Newt Scamander help out! He tells his good friend Jacob to not worry because it means suffering twice, which spells (see what I did there? heh) out so wonderfully how worrying is just us tormenting ourselves…when life can be hard enough already as it is.
For the chronic worriers, why not carry Newt’s words around with you as your phone’s wallpaper? It helps if you’ve unconsciously fallen into a worry pit; I do this myself and it’s worked wonders so far!
2) Alice to herself in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Before Alice enters Wonderland, she cries in frustration at being unable to reach the little golden key, because the DRINK ME bottle has shrunk her into a ten-inch size of herself. She is then reminded of the times she played croquet…against herself.
But it’s no use now,’ thought poor Alice, `to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!’
While we might not have shrunk physically the way Alice has, her words will resonate if you’ve ever felt the pressure to be somebody you’re not—whether it be in lifestyle or demeanour. When that happens, repeat Alice’s words to yourself and direct your limited time and energy toward being the best you!
3) The Noldorin Elf Gildor to Frodo, at the start of his fateful journey
“But it is not your own Shire,’ said Gildor. ‘Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about (around) you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.”
(The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R Tolkien)
Frodo receives these words from Gildor before the start of his fateful journey to Mordor, after the latter reveals to him that the Enemy (you-know-who) pursues him and danger greets him in “his own” Shire. It’s a thought-provoking reminder of how, as much as we want to, we cannot turn a blind eye to the bigger forces around us. Change will always come and we need to be prepared.
4) Winnie the Pooh on …..things
Did you know that the English celebrate National Winnie-the-Pooh day every January 18th, during the birthday of his creator A.A Milne? Deservedly so, I should think! The charming adventures of the bear and his friends contain many adorable moments, one of which happens when Winnie-the-Pooh says rather sagely:
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
(The House at Pooh Corner, A.A Milne)
We might not all be bears, but that doesn’t mean that follow Winnie-the-Pooh and seek the advice or perspective of others when we encounter problems or well, Things that we cannot wrap our heads around. Alternatively, putting the Thing down on paper could also help you contextualise it better!
5) The Little Prince to the Narrator
The Little Prince novella is beloved by many for its bittersweet messages and whimsical tone, and is one of the best books to take with you on your travels! This particular quote from the Narrator, when explaining about his friend The Little Prince, had me do some soul-searching:
“If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
As a ‘grown-up’, how true is this? Let’s not get swept away in judging others (and ourselves!) through ‘measurable’ achievements and statuses, but also see others through the little things that speak volumes about who they are.
6) If you’ve been wondering if anything you do comes up to anything, it will.
In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, the titular character shares with the protagonist Santiago about how, “no matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it”. So, if you’ve been wondering if the efforts you put into your work/a cause you’re passionate about/just about anything that matters to you will make a difference, keep these words in mind! You are making a difference.
With the countless works of fiction out there, there’s no end to the amount of wisdom we can glean; we just need to keep our eyes peeled! If you have any cherished quotes or lessons you’d love to share with us, or a different perspective of the moments above, do drop us a comment or email! We’d love to hear more.
In the meantime, may these help you in your journeys! Peace out.[Note for Readers] Are you looking for a degree programme that matches your aspirations? Here's your chance to talk to a senior in person. On 6 Apr at the highly-touted Future Academy, you will be brought around by a senior. Registration is free! Check it out now to ask questions and engage in discussion!