So you know how it goes.
You are a child and they put you in school. If you are lucky they won’t cram A’s and B’s into your brain. But most of the time these days they will, even if you already grasp the concept.
Numbers also appear and sometime along the way, you are asked to learn multiplication tables by heart. And then they explain adjectives and verbs and grammar. But never do they tell you why grammar is important. Diligently you learn the rules, make mistakes aplenty and in orthography too, and you start fearing exams. And you study some more, and you memorise some more, and somehow it is fine. Grammar you see is important because without it there would be chaos and there would be no communication. But they never tell you that.
And you move on … with the herd.
Then one day, while at the public library, you notice a little book on a table waiting to be placed back on the shelf. You are barely 11 years old but the cover attracts you. It is a bug -kind of a cockroach really- and it is looking at you. You pick it up, sit on a chair at the corner, and start to read.
“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.”
You meet Gregor Samsa for the very first time and your life changes.
The world becomes multi-dimensional and filled with the unknown. You realize that not understanding is not such a bad thing and that it leads you to question, to ponder, to search some more. You realise that someone else thinks along the same lines as you do, and even writes about it without being belittled. You encounter poetry and the magic of words. You realize imagination has no boundaries, no shapes, and that it is immense, colourful and filled with flavours that you, yes you, can change at will.
I remember the joy of delving into a new world, pondering Gregor Samsa’s dilemma and feeling sorry for him; but also rejoicing at his uncanny freedom as he leaves the house, and by the same token, the drudgery of his working life. He may be a bug, a “vermin” as some translations put it, but he is suddenly free and unburdened. And that, you see, is just fine.
The world is an open field and we have the ability to avoid falling into drudgery if we really want to. We need not become a bug, but we can metamorphose at will. Our mind, our imagination, our sensitivity to the world are to be used, to be expanded upon.
As the world seems to be breaking at the seams with rampant ignorance, prejudice and violence, we can let our mind be free and we can dream. Just like Kafka, we all have a wonderful capacity to expand our imagination beyond the confines of even books and words.
Thank you for reading.