Reading Reflections: May I Ask You Something?


May I Ask You Something?, written by Cyan Corwine and published in New Zealand, is a little gem I read whenever I am feeling blue. It is a picture book which I hold dear to my heart. The pictures are just drawings or rather sketches, where the font has sketch effects too- I love that, it's like the author deliberately sketched the words so that you can fill them in with your thoughts to make it your own story too (or am I reading into this too much? (I probably have.)) Nonetheless, although it is simple and a short read, it is thought-provoking, insightful and sweet. 

Could there ever be a more wonderful story than your own?
— Nichiren Daishonin

This was the quote written at the front of the book. I have always said it and yes, I will say it again. We all have a story. It may not be as wonderful now but you can always change it. YOU have the power to do so. Change your perspective, change your story. I stopped telling myself the same old story as you can't re-create yourself or write your new chapter if you keep re-reading the past. If you want a happy and wonderful story, let go of the past, the hurt, the anger, the baggage that you carry. Let them all go. Because if you don't let go, or choose to move on, you will remain stuck because you believe that your past defines you or that your past is all that you will ever be. But let me tell you that you are more than that. That you have the capacity to be all that you want to be. You just need to forgive yourself and give yourself the permission to do so. 

May I ask You Something? explores the ideas of growing up and facing our problems. It shows how our undying inner child tries to reconcile the constant ever so changing world around us and our constant changing bodies. Ultimately, it is about growth and it is about change. 

I honestly still can't believe that I'm twenty and looking at childhood photos, I can't believe how much how I have changed (thank God for puberty). I think I have come a long way, not just physically (LOL) but in character also. As you meet new people and gain new knowledge, you come across different perspectives and your way of thinking changes. Your values and your morals change where they could sometimes fluctuate, especially if you are exposed to a different culture (and that is totally fine but make sure you take away the good things from it). With past mistakes over the years and the lesson's learned, you know better so you do better. And it's interesting how I have I grown older but I grew fonder too. 

If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that you can't always be happy. There will be days when you are upset and feeling blue. And it's perfectly normal. What's not normal is when you feel depressed for a length of time (and if you do, seek help).

In this book, the girl wants all of her problems to be taken away by someone so that she could be happy and have a perfect life. But this book emphasises that a perfect life is a boring life. I have to admit that in my naive, teenage years I relied on others to give me my happiness and I can tell you now that you will always be left disappointed. This gem reminded me that my own happiness is within me. And that it needs to come from me. 

Sometimes we think that famous figures have it all because we think that they are happy and perfect in every way but in reality, they are imperfect human beings too and they have their own problems. I guess, what I'm trying to say is that not one human being has ever lived without any problems or challenges. And I believe that we all have the resilience within ourselves to face them. We just need to respond to them, rather than react. 

This also reminds me of a quote in the Quran:

God does not burden any soul with more than he can bear.
— Quran, Al-Baqara 286

Rather than being pessimistic and  asking why, be optimistic and think about what you are grateful for. Being grateful is one of the most easiest ways to be happy and it literally takes a couple of seconds. My suggestion is to keep a gratitude journal and after a month of being persistent in writing, you will definitely notice that you are happier. 

To end this blog post, I have three quotes from May I Ask You Something?

Now, listen my dear.
It’s possible to live with no worries or fears
but you may find it boring to live year after year.

Life’s not meant to be rain-free, you know?
All things need water, in order to grow.
— May I Ask You Something?, Cyan Corwine.
Not all the surprises
in my life have been good.
And I’d happily exchange a few,
if I could...

What is done is done
and what will be, will be
The key variable I control
is quite simply,
— May I Ask You Something?, Cyan Corwine.
So, bring on the bumps
and pain...
I’ve got some spare band-aids
’n I’ll wash in that rain.

And when the time comes
to reread
I shall rejoice.
Because this ever-changing story
has been told
with my voice.
— May I Ask You Something?, Cyan Corwine.





Nurul Shamsul