Is this cheating as Metamorphosis is a really short book? It might be but, it’s okay J I am still happy I read it. I really enjoyed this novella and honestly it was a sad read. I have at times struggled with finding the time to read but, I have been really good for the past two weeks. I think it’s because I enjoy it so much. Although, I must admit that I have ignored some of my personal responsibilities to read which I need to be better about.
Book Name: Metamorphosis
Author: Franz Kafka
Rating: 4.5 / 5
This book is sad. I don’t get emotional about reading but, this book made me sad in more than one way. First, Gregor Samsa (the main character) in the novella is so relatable. He works hard to provide for his family. He has a vision in his head that he’s going to tell off his employer once he is financially stable and quit his job. Everything he does is to take care of his family. I relate to that in so many ways. I am the oldest in my family and in my short life – I have made sacrifices that most people probably do not have to make till later in their life. Gregor one day turns into a bug / cockroach which ends up changing his entire life and his relationship with his family. His family cannot bear to look at him and he becomes dispensable very quickly. His presence is mostly felt because his income isn’t coming in. This made me think of much labor is tied to a person’s identity. What are we without our work? What are we without labor defining us? Before, Gregor was a “travelling salesman” and a son who provided for his family but, after his transformation – he becomes nothing. His family slowly starts to resent him and even plans to get rid of him. In the end, Gregor passes away as a bug and his family moves on. His sister, the baby of the family, starts sprouting into a woman showing the end of one life and a beginning of another.
Overall, I really felt for Gregor. I think we all know how it feels to be excluded from a group at some point in our life. It also shows how his life plans ended before he could do anything about it. I imagine we all want to live our life a certain way and cannot do it because of limitations we put on ourselves.
Have you read the Metamorphosis? If so, what did you think about it?
Lately, I have been reading more. This year, I have read 14 books and they have all changed my viewpoint / thinking in one way or another. Reading really makes us realize that we aren’t alone and our pain is mostly universal. I recently read a book that changed my thinking profoundly. The book is called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.
Viktor Frankel was an Australian neurologist / psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He survived three Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz. The struggles in his life are obviously hard to compare. When he was released from the camp, he found out his entire family including his wife was killed in concentration camps. Being passionate about neurology, he writes honestly about his thought process and mindset surviving one of the most horrific times in history.
The book is a gem and it will take forever to summarize the message it conveys but, I have summarized what I have learned and what resonated with me.
- You cannot control what happens to you but, you can control your response: You cannot control what happens in life and the injustices you will endure. Maybe you will be a victim of a horrific crime such as Mr. Frankl himself or face other tragedies in life like death of a loved one, a broken heart, failure in a job, an accident, and many others. These tragedies can make us extremely bitter and broken or they can be used as transformative tools to make us better human beings. We can use our pain in a way that allows us to be successful and happy. Sometimes the most horrific things we go through sets up us to be who we didn’t think we were capable of being and in turn makes us more understanding, empathetic and overall better human beings.
- Suffering is a necessary part of life: Suffering exists with life. We cannot avoid suffering and happiness cannot be attained without suffering. Suffering here does not mean self-inflicted pain (he strongly encourages you to avoid suffering if possible) but, when you do suffer – it is actually a good thing. A blessing in disguise of some sort. He says that a person isn’t supposed to be “free from suffering” rather, he should suffer for a meaningful or a freely chosen goal. Only then, can he truly be happy. This pursuit of “meaning” leads us to happiness.
- Serving others leads you to find yourself: Transcendence of self is the only way to reach enlightenment. You can meditate and be spiritual as long as you want but, if you do not dedicate your life in pursuit of making it better for someone else – enlightenment is hard to obtain. Be selfless and enlightenment will find you. I agree with this partially but, I think self-love and self-care goes hand in hand. We cannot serve others if we’re not happy in the first place.
These are just small things I learned from the book. The book is profound and I encourage everyone to read it.
If you have read it – what were the lessons you learned from it?