A girl who loves books: dreams of a commune with Hesse


As a child, I read everything that Hermann Hesse wrote and was very impressed with the idea of ​​Buddhism, which he described in his books. The heroes of Hesse leave their home and set off on a long journey to the East, where they will eventually find themselves, and return home enlightened after this discovery.

This is what I also wanted to experience, except for returning home. Like his heroes, I wanted to go on a journey, experience life-changing enlightenment, and build a new home for myself. Big sunny hippie house where I can live with people like me, plant vegetables in the garden, have lots of small animals and a white piano. Commune…

On the cover of my diary, which I kept when I was fourteen and fifteen years old, I wrote “Only for lunatics.” It was what I stole from Steppenwolf Hesse. I never for a moment looked away from those talismanic words written on the poster of the mysterious theater in the novel. I liked to think that I was crazy, and I dreamed of living in a special place where only crazy people like me would be accepted.

I was afraid to be ordinary. I found most of my classmates too ordinary and avoided them. Or was it they who found me too strange and avoided me because I slept with books and loved them more than people? I can no longer remember it, but I remember very well that there was an ocean of distance between me and these people that I saw every day.

Only for crazy people… Only crazy people were invited into my world. This world was actually a very desolate, very quiet place. I have always been there alone. On sunny days, I drew the curtains, lit candles and incense, listened to those dull grunge bands that I like, and wrote nonstop in my diary.

I would wait. I didn’t know what to expect, but I believed with all my heart that something very big and wonderful was going to happen to me. I will grow up and create a commune. I was sure that there are people like me in this world, and that I dream about them at night. How I imagined them…

While I was lost in these dreams, I often ignored my true nature. I imagined myself in the green garden of the commune as some crazy girl in a pigtailed bikini singing Stairway To Heaven, tossing her sunny hair.

In fact, I was neither blonde nor crazy, and I hated Stairway To Heaven. If I had known myself a little better in those years, I would have known that I was not a person of large groups, but of the friendship of two or three people.

However, I didn’t know myself yet. I just looked at pictures of hippies and let myself be tickled. I developed a deep obsession with everything related to them. I would give anything to teleport back to those years, to be one of them.

In that famous summer of love in 1967, I could see in these photographs that they were scattered in large groups on the grass. They read to each other excerpts from Hesse’s Steppenwolf. It was entertainment reserved for psychos only. But even if I had been in the world at that time, maybe I would have felt like a stranger among these people whom I envied.

I wrote by candlelight, surrounded by sandalwood smoke. Writing in a diary was a sacred act for me, the most acceptable form of self-talk.

And of course, I had a secret dream that someone would come and read my diary and finally understand how special I am. But he never showed up.

Because Hesse taught me that loneliness can be wonderful. That each of us is alone on our journey. But that shouldn’t stop us from wanting companions. His characters learned a lot from the people they met along the way, and these encounters on the path to enlightenment strengthened them like never before.

When I read his books at school, in class, under desks and in secret, I decided to choose “letter” as my traveling companion, instead of waiting for a commune that would never come. I would write books and start my commune, but from now on my commune will be a feeling, not a house where I could live.

Bodhisattvas were people who gave up their path to ultimate enlightenment, Nirvana, in order to allow all people to know the Buddha and experience enlightenment. I hoped that I would also grow up to be a writer, and that my books would become some kind of guide on the path to love and enlightenment. I wanted others to feel what Hesse made me feel. To be their secret, little steppe wolves…

For the crazy ones only, here’s what they would say about this new universe that I’m about to create. My books will inspire them to write their own books, to create their own universe. We would learn to love our loneliness together. We would see that the glamorous crowds are not at all what they seem, and their luster soon faded. Even from afar, we will always love and care for each other.

And I was finally able to teach them that drawing the curtains and writing when the sun was shining outside could also be sacred.

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