In a simple language that also reflects his austere way of life, Ruskin Bond has delightfully shared the wisdom he had learned along the way, few memories from his childhood, the daily encounters with his surroundings and the people in his book, which is a collection of his notes – A Book of Simple Living. Like a hopeless romantic, he has never ceased to love—for the mountains where he dwells, for the birds who coo and hoot day and night, for that stranger whom he gives shelter for the night. All the tenderness he has for Nature reflects in his lucid and effortless writing. To me, it seems that he has derived a great deal of pleasure in observing the natural world and learning the essence of life—being content and happy.
Here is my first-time encounter with Ruskin Bond through his unpretentious book. It is a heartwarming read whose words will uplift your spirit. On a chance visit to one of the bookstalls at Delhi Book Fair, I found a pleasant looking book with green cover packed neatly in a corner. I am glad that I picked it up.
There are so many of his views that I liked and I endorse in my own life too. Although my blog wouldn’t be enough to condense all those points, here are some of the bits and pieces that I could capture.
Observe the details
Have you ever seen a sapling growing through the cracks of a concrete path or tiny wildflowers blooming on the walls? Have you felt the sweet warmth of the morning rays touching your skin? Isn’t it wonderful to imitate bird calls when you take a walk in the park or a forest? The fluttering butterflies, the gentle rustle of leaves or the sound of a stream, I know what it feels like when you come across these tiny moments of life and take a step back to experience them. They leave you with joy than ever before.
In this book, I found similar tidbits of experience, which Mr. Bond seems to enjoy and appreciate immensely. He believes that life’s greatest pleasures are free. Whether it means watching a plant grow or trees bearing fruits or cultivating a garden, such activities tend to inspire you. As the author describes, a little conversation with Nature, pruning the shrubs and digging the earth bring him out of writer’s block and let him proceed with an unfinished story. And I couldn’t agree more. I have seen such wonderful things work like magic in my life too.
The resolution to your blockage or dilemma or unhappiness is—go out, find some time to carefully observe the little happenings around you, become aware of your surroundings, understand what makes you happy, which could mean taking a walk, watching the sunrise and the sunset, stargazing on a dark night, or noticing how birds take a dip in puddles. Make your life easy-breezy by observing the beautiful details of your daily life that are waiting for you to discover.
As Mr. Bond puts – Live close to nature and your spirit will not be easily broken, for you to learn something of patience and resilience. You will not grow restless and you will never feel lonely.
What art can do to one’s soul?
Being a person who is into creative pursuits, I could grasp the author’s sentiments on artistry and what he meant by delivering the best within one’s limitations. The stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius had reflected centuries ago that one must love his art, even if it poorly serves him, he should remain content. In this way, he shall never have to remain someone else’s slave or tyrant. The author has applied this principle to his own life, without any regrets, even if it meant difficulty in making his ends meet at times. Iterating this, he says that he never felt the compulsion to create a novel or biography, which could possibly turn into a blockbuster. He learned about patience and dedication to his art. Finally, he is an artist with no regrets, one who has thoroughly enjoyed creating and honing his craft.
As for me, I learned that to truly connect with the world, I must stay single-minded and patient with my art, whatever form I am creating. There must be a certain amount of resilience to put oneself through the toil in order to bring out a remarkable work. That process of pain and labor ultimately are rewarding and nourishing.
The solitude way of life
Let’s just say that solitude is a freedom that one naturally owns but seldom exercise. A lot of us fear to be in this position because we are accustomed to the protection and a sense of emotional and physical security. What people usually mistake solitude for is loneliness. A solitary state of being doesn’t mean living alone or some kind of isolation. You might easily blend with the crowd, yet you can remain solitary. Solitude allows you to do soul searching, converse with yourself and get away from all the chaos that tends to distract you from exploring your creativity.
How wonderful it is to find that I share this outlook with Mr. Bond. Solitude, which he holds so dear, he would often bask in his study room, contemplate about life, take a walk in the forest or enjoy a whiff of fresh mountain air—he never fails to find happiness in the little things of life. What is even more admirable about him is the way he feels secure, unfazed by any waning limelight or accolades. He is in complete harmony with his age and believes that one must come out of the glare and stay in the shadow. This means one should learn to stay impervious to fame fading away.
An important lesson to learn here is — celebrate your own self, discover who you are in solitary. You will come to enjoy your own company without any fear of leaving your friendship or companionship behind. You won’t lose the real ones.
Like his disposition, the book radiates an effervescent personality. Long after reading, you will continue to bask in the wisdom imparted by the brief notes from the hills.
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