Greek mythology gives us the word ‘ protean’ to describe versatility after Proteus, the constantly changing sea god. ‘ Protean Professional’ was the perception that suggested itself for the multi-tasking medical student whose book “ Small Things That Matter Much” was released by me on 31 may 2012. The 21 year old author , Edmond Fernandes was a former champion footballer, whose present studies in medicine go alongside writing, journalism, motivational speaking and entrepreneurship.
I recall the proverb based poem I learned as a child- “for want of a nail the shoe was lost”, then the horse, the rider, the army, the king and the kingdom- all for want of a horseshoe nail. Likewise, the book’s title implies the small things that affect the big picture of the healthy and integrated individual personality.
Some months ago, at the first release of my novel “ Blossom Showers”, I recalled that one of the things that kept alive my passion to write fiction was the dream to turn out sensitive work like Somerset Maugham, who interestingly started out as a doctor. In seeking to be an author, Edmond joins a fraternity that includes doctor- writers like AJ Cronin, Frank G Slaughter, Richard Gordon, and new age Guru Deepak Chopra.
A vast number of people undergo experiences, but a writer discerns and shares insight that escapes others. I regard it as a meeting point between the external happenings of the outer world and the inner world of one’s personal make-up.When the powerful idea of a writer reaches the reader, it subtly influences that individual’s inner world. At a critical point, in terms of numbers or intensity of reaction, collective change for the external world is possible, such as when the currency of the novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ spurred action for emancipation of slaves in America, or when Mahatma Gandhi acted on Henry David Thoreau’s writings on civil disobedience. I gauge the young author’s eagerness to positively influence the way people conduct their lives. From his relevant readings and personal encounters, he offers practical prescriptions for the healthful spirit and the achievement of personal equilibrium.
In zen philosophy, the concept of “ Bodhisatva” assures humanity of the wisdom of awakened minds, because the title Buddha equates with the Sanskrit “ buddhi” or mind. Evolved souls might also come as writers, fostering understanding through the communicative process. Interestingly, a day after I accepted Edmond’s invitation, I landed on a random page of Thic Nhat Hanh’s influential book“ The Art of Power”, in a chapter unusually focused on writers. His counsel is for an author’s creative focus to be trained on real value- the quality of insights in wisdom and compassion. A book succeeds even if it effectively reaches out to a few who internalize its spirit and pass the message around with relevant actions; also if it can still ring true after a hundred years. The stress is on nobility of intent that then informs content. Edmond’s book makes apparent his sincere purpose, to share his version of correct living in a compact and easily comprehensible work..
There are many motivational books on the transforming power of the positive attitude. Edmond’s book responds to this need and reflects this popular trend. However, the onus of solely generating the positive spirit is lessened on the individual by additionally placing it in a framework of faith. The one way paean to positivity is mediated by a realization of the somber realities of disease and death he has seen first hand as a medical professional. I found it heartening to find a young person advocate the joy of service in our self centered times, also that he touched on the problems of excessive networking with a stress on the fruitful usage of time for the young to realize their dreams.
The thing about a book like this, especially its arresting title is that it stimulates each of us to ask ourselves “ what are the small things that matter much to me and why?”Edmondhas generously shared his vision; we are implicitly encouraged to examine our own. His focus is on the individual, but the closing sentence of the book’s opening paragraph rues the earth’s degradation from human greed. Surely a worthwhile thought, when simultaneous with the stressed out individual is a planet in peril. Human society cannot be disconnected from the animate and inanimate environment. For example, the book is more than the author’s thoughts and sweats; it’s more than paper, ink, glue, computer and printing machine.; it is also the tree, sunshine, rain and innumerable elements of the universe that went into them. There is an inter-connectedness of being that cannot be ignored by the evolved individual. Another small example- the numbers of a certain African bee are dropping, and people may well ask how this at all matters to the might of human existence. Quite a lot, because this tiny creature is responsible for crop pollination, its diminishing numbers through negative human intervention underlie some crop failures and famines. We have grown up on such tenets as “ love thy neighbor’which today extends beyond the person next door or an intimate circle to a planetary import. Wasteful excesses are warming up the globe with resultant floods, tornadoes, droughts that hurt the earth’s inhabitants elsewhere and everywhere, with equal potential of harming us and our descendants. This mandates greater thoughtfulness in configuring comfort levels- minimizing consumption of fossil fuels, airconditioning, plastic, paper, power, wood, water could be the small things that matter for an endangered earth and all its species, including human society and its individuals.( Among other measures, I think of polar bears drowning on ice melting from global warming as I desist from personal use of air conditioning; I eccentrically lug around my carry bags despite the store assistants’ smirks when I decline their generous paper and plastic offerings).
From what I’ve taken in ofEdmond’s profile, he is dynamic and determined, which is significant when so many young people are either unaware or rejecting of their talents and aptitudes.Edmond’s is an early start, a commendable endeavor given his youth. His confidence and initiative deserve particular applause. He has sought not to be one of the crowd, but to lead it through the vehicle of his conveyed ideas. The pathways to the good life are many, depending on one’s personal conception of goodness.( Some of us might also rely on the mind-body- spirit connection through meditation/ avoiding cruelty to non- human sentient beings/ reposing greater faith in the self’s ability to achieve personal and external good.) What must be appreciated is the passion with which he passes on beliefs and practices that have anchored him so far, in the hope that it will arrest the drift in others and re-direct them, or re-inforce firm values in those already of similar mindset.
Engagement with ideas is a continuing process for all, and quite imperative for thinkers and writers who intend to be prolific. Completing a book for an author is like leaving the familiarity of a personally constructed structure to start another from scratch. This is however completely feasible because life pops up new stimuli to trigger thought process- it could be new knowledge, new experiences, deeper introspections…( I know I gave deep introspection to “ Aerial Roots” my volume of poems that reflected a mindset at a point of time. My novel “ Blossom Showers” represents a further growth in the continuum of life. As I now work on other writing, I find I have evolved even further as a person from my interactions with life and new bodies of knowledge.) A writer’s aspiration is to perennially progress to taller heights of vision, further depths of insight and wider breadth of concerns. The resolve should be to keep oneself open to multiple stimuli for expanded consciousness, that new maturities ever enlighten and enliven creative work.
My good wishes for the wide reach of “ Small Things That Matter Much”. Young Edmond Fernandes, I’m sure will touch many lives even as he rises to the challenges of versatile ventures and vocations.