The other day, my brother told me that this year he is going to send me one book a month. I squealed in delight. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.
He knows I love reading. I have a curious mind and I let it wander in all kinds of directions. I read about stuff I know nothing about, happily, because it destroys my ignorance. I also read about stuff I know something about, and the joy I get from these books is to go deeper into a beloved topic. So, in deciding his gift, he has done so keeping me in mind.
Knowing that I like discovering and learning about new ideas, my brother has talked about books with me freely. He likes to read and he generously exposed me to the writers and writing he was getting to know. In the process, he unlocked many new idea spaces for me, opening up unknown vistas.
He introduced me to Zen Buddhism and Charlotte Joko Beck. My lens on life and living fundamentally shifted as a result.
Then, he told me about behavioural science, giving me a few audio books on the subject one Christmas. I devoured them. And now, I’m convinced that behavioural science is key to creating personal and social change.
As if this was not enough by way of transforming me as a person, he revealed Robert Wright’s “The Moral Animal”, which helped me understand the institution of marriage and Darwinian evolution theory; “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, which finally gave me an understanding into why the West colonized the world despite India and China being more advanced on the science and cultural fronts; and Alan Watts, who I am still appreciating for his awe-inspiring intellect.
Everyone needs someone like my brother. By this, I mean someone who expands your horizons, pulling you out of the rut and showing you that there, beyond the fence, lies a wondrous world of intelligent, divine ideas. Over the years since he’s been doing this to me, I’ve re-examined and reinvented myself. I think I’m a better version of me. All these deep thinkers and philosophers shaped my thoughts, beliefs and views of the world. I only got to know them because I had someone who knew them and who thought I should meet them.
I hope you’re lucky enough to have someone like this in your life. Even if you don’t, you can be that person for someone else. You won’t necessarily know it, but you can take my word that the impact you will have on that person will be life-changing.