It’s World Book Day. It’s a highlight of the year because you get to dress up as a character from your favourite book. I’m currently wearing my Zarathustra costume.
I thought I’d also take the opportunity to go on about one of my favourite books. But don’t worry this is not a review of any of Nietzsche’s mind-mangling philosophy.
I want to talk about ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts’ by Gabor Mate.
On one level it’s about Dr Mate’s experience among the most marginalised people in society, homeless injection drug users with multiple and complex physical and mental health problems. But on another level it’s about the human condition.
It is a work of extraordinary compassion and insight. He talks about how the people he worked with, were searching for a moment, a brief interval of time when they were free from the pain of the past and the worry of the future. He contrasts their experience with his own, his attempts to find that briefest instant of peace and ease.
True he didn’t use heroin, but he recognised that the behaviours came from the same place. In turn, it helped me to appreciate what I had been trying to do with all my years of drinking.
While there is a good deal of pain and suffering within its pages, I believe it has a positive message. Anyone can change, even you.
I’ll let Gabor have the last word, “we may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.”