By Dr. Shruti Shankar Gaur
This isn’t a book review. Instead, its life review of Daniel Quinn by me. Here I am exploring only the first half of the book ‘Providence’ where Quinn shares his life story and how he ended up writing the award-winning book ‘Ishmael’.
Prior to reading Providence, any kind of life story/ biography/ autobiography motivated me. I felt the struggles, empathized with situations & was inspired by the winning strokes. However, for the first time I was reading a life story and jumping “Oh my God! That’s so like me! I used to exactly think like that!”. Reading Providence was reading my own story in a different plot & time zone. I could pick the similar patterns. This mirroring has happened to me the first time. Please note: In no way do I feel great comparing to the greatness of this great man. On the contrary, I am connected with the ordinariness of his being. Providence gave me a chance to explore my life using Quinn’s lens. Here I am, writing the mashup of Quinn & my own life journey!
Quinn’s Childhood & entire youth was brutal, he was completely lost as a queer boy, wrapped in the misconceptions of his own being. On the other hand, I had a fairy tale childhood, yet I was completely confused as a young girl, completely lost as a young woman wrapped up in the misconceptions of my own being. Quinn & I didn’t know what to do with our lives until we hit thirties.
He was trying to be an epitome of perfection and so was I. I wanted to be a good girl always & he a good boy. Growing up, little did we know that ‘perfection is a disease, for even in Chemistry the ideal gas doesn’t exist’.
Daniel had his ordeal being a monk. I didn’t have an ordeal though but ya was an ardent follower of faith as he was being a Catholic.
We couldn’t be woken up from our slumber by ordinary experiences.
We needed the extraordinary providence
We had to be electrocuted,
We had to be drowned
We had to be burnt alive
To value our own being
To acknowledge who we were post all the cultural peeling
To recognize the phoenix in us
Eventually, Quinn & I abandoned the stereotyped God who lived in heaven. When I read Quinn saying, “Lest did I know, I will become my own teacher.” My heart skipped a beat. This is exactly what I had been telling people around me, “I am my own teacher, and my own student.” No rules, no teachings, no traditions, no rituals, even no discipline! We don’t follow the herd, but follow our own path, & definitely don’t talk to please. We are just happy in our own being.
It happened with me as it did with Daniel Quinn and for that matter with any human being anywhere in the world. The moment one discovers the core of ‘WHO AM I’ hidden beneath the piles of cultural teachings, one’s upbringing, education, beliefs, attitudes, conceptions, perceptions, biasedness; one is at peace with oneself & everything around. I can’t describe the feeling, may be its called bliss maybe it’s the heaven personified. But yes, when you meet yourself bare naked, you transpose into the most authentic, most beautiful and the grandest version of you. There’s no doubt about it! And the journey doesn’t end there, because every moment is the moment of self-discovery & if I may permit myself to be brutally rudimentary, every moment is a moment of recognizing one’s own shit & cleaning it. 🙂
Why on earth am I sharing this?
I am writing this piece for anyone out there:
who feels lost,
who doesn’t fit in,
who feels out of place,
who doesn’t know what to do with his/her life,
Hang on a little more fellow being
Take my word
For I was there for three decades
Out of all the nonsense in & around you,
Something sensible will occur
All you need to be is always remain
I am sure Quinn will agree with me, “Let the providence work upon you in its own provident ways and you will see your curse was a blessing.”