The status quo has a strong hold on certain people, often times, extending to the types of books they like to read. Financial advisors read books on the stock market; lawyers read legal documents; and, doctors check out the latest medical journals. In a way, this is natural. Any person would want to develop expertise on his or her own field to be successful. However, some people take it too far. They become inflexible in a sense that they want to maintain life as they know it. They do not want to move away from the types of books they are used to reading. The excuse is usually the shortage of time: “There is so much to read related to my field of expertise that I don’t have time to read anything else!”
I would like to argue that this is the wrong attitude to have. My recent experience bears testimony to it. I went to a book store to look at philosophy books. (I spent over a decade studying philosophy at the university level.) Because of the reorganization of the store, I ended up walking into the wrong aisle where the spiritual books were stacked. I spotted a book, entitled, “How to Become a Witch: The Path of Nature, Spirit & Magick,” by Amber K & Azrael Arynn K. I ended up buying it. I have had a few interesting reactions to the book from the people around me who saw it. One person stormed out of a room, telling me that I was inviting the devil into my life. Another person started giggling, as if it were a joke. A third person nervously smiled, not knowing what to say to remain politically correct. Despite the reactions, I still had every intention to read it. An hour into the book, I discovered something that probably changed my life.
To understand this dramatic change, I have to share some background information. My interest in philosophy has to do with the nature of reality and the afterlife. This has led me down the path to philosophers who were also mystics. Most of these philosophers are from ancient times. Following their philosophies, I have received harsh criticisms before. My PhD advisor once remarked, “Your beliefs are naïve, archaic and sophomoric.” Basically, my philosophical beliefs are not a winning recipe for success in the modern philosophical community. Due to my ancient beliefs, I thought that I was the only strange and weird philosopher in the world. After all, who else would profess a belief in a metaphysical (ontological) reality that supersedes the physical world and that is both imminent and transcended in nature? To be less technical, who else believes that, “I belong to a spiritual world that is greater than I am, to which I also belong?” I have to be the only crazy person left in the world, right? Wrong. Having read the book on witchcraft, I know that I am not alone! This is the discovery that I made an hour into the book. I have to say that not everything in the book was familiar or easy to receive. For example, reading about rituals felt like watching an alien navigate a hovercraft. It was strange! (Not necessarily right or wrong, just strange!) I am not used to any religious rituals since I live my life in the absence of them. Having said all this, I have to say that I discovered one of the most important things in my life: I share philosophical ideology with a group of people whom I never knew even existed! Now, if I had refused to pick up the book on witchcraft, using the excuse that I had no time for a different kind of book, would I have ever learnt that I am not alone professing faith in an ancient philosophy? Probably not. Lesson learned!
This means that there is no excuse for solely sticking with the books that increase one’s own expertise. So, next time you are in a book store, please, do walk into the wrong aisle! Take the time to discover something new. Are you a financial advisor? Maybe, it is time to check out the books on woodworking. Are you a lawyer? Maybe, it is time to learn about photography. Are you a doctor? Maybe, paintballing will be your next hobby. Whatever you discover, just remember, it may change your life!
M. J. Mandoki