I recently finished reading a book written by a very talented chilean writer called Isabel Allende, her book is “La Casa de los Espíritus” (The House of the Spirits), super recommended if you like magical realism – pretty wacky stuff! I hated the book at first and it took me ages to read it. I would read a couple of pages and drop it, but still feel curious about what would happen, pick it up again, and so on.
The last page of the book was literally what made it so very special to me. Even though there were times when I really liked it, I was never truly satisfied with it and felt like “why the hell am I even trying to finish it?”, but something whispered every single time from the back of my head, and on I went again and again. On the last page one of the protagonists shared her discovery about how life works, and her way of seeing it not only made me get the point of the entire book, but also of my personal experiences.
Sometimes I really can’t understand why certain things happen, and I wonder why they have to happen to me. Is it that I deserve them? That I did something wrong and need to pay for it in some way? But after reading this book I realised that all the little things that happen, every single moment of our lives has its meaning, its purpose. Just like pieces in a puzzle. Without one piece the puzzle would never be completed, would never make sense, and would never become what it was meant to. So, looking back, I’ve realised that everything that’s happened to me, even the things I’m not very happy about, that have hurt me, or made me sad for a long time whenever I recall them, were meant to happen. Had they not happened I wouldn’t be where I am now, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to become a better version of myself.
If we look at our experiences as learning opportunities, rather than as punishments or unfair happenings we don’t deserve, we will grow so much faster than if we sit there and complain, or moan, or beat ourselves up after making a mistake.
There’s something about mistakes really that I feel could make such a difference. I don’t know who is responsible of inventing the word ‘mistake’. “You’ve made a mistake” immediately implies that it’s your fault, that you’ve screwed up or done something irreversible. At least that’s what it feels like to me. But what if we could see ‘mistakes’ as ‘bonuses’ without taking away the I-don’t-wanna-go-through-that-again factor of it? Wouldn’t it be great to not feel the weight on our shoulders, or the guilt when doing something wrong? I think our lives would be very different if we tried to learn from our experiences and not erase any we don’t like or feel we could have done better. It would be great because you’d just look at what you’ve done, put it in your little ‘bonus bag’ and keep moving forward, only wiser this time, and resting in the fact that that’s the way things were meant to happen.
So, I must thank Isabel Allende for taking me through a rough path, but then letting me put all the pieces together with that last page of her book. From now on, every time I go through something I’ll just remember that last page, tell myself it was meant to happen, absorb all the learning I can from that new experience, and turn the page. Shut the book. Move on to the next one.