I just finished reading Elif Shafak's '40 rules of love'. Ms. Shafak's brings together the lives of people from 13th century Turkey and 21st century USA seamlessly, until the reader forgets where one ends and the other starts - and truth be told, it doesn't matter.
The book begins with exploring the life and beliefs of Ella Rubinstein, a woman who has turned 40 and who has a husband and 3 children and a financially stable life. She believes herself to be happy and at the same time, has started to question herself about her life. What more does she want? Why does she feel this sense of incompleteness? At this crucial juncture, she is given a manuscript to read and give her editorial comments. The manuscript titled 'Sweet Blasphemy' is by an new writer and is about the mystical relationship shared by the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi with his spiritual mentor Shams-i-Tabrizi.
Ella immediately feels a connect - both to the manuscript and to the writer - and she does something that shocks her: she emails the writer, a man she does not know. And thus, Ella sets off to discover the Rumi within her and in the process also finding her Shams. The book is about this journey - it is about self-discovery, it is about letting go of prejudices and about acceptance. Acceptance of both self and of the world around, for what it is.
This is truly one of the most enjoyable books I have read recently. Very engaging and powerful in its simplicity. As a Coach and Trainer, I found numerous messages that I can use in my training and coaching. It also drove home very powerfully to me again, the importance of accepting myself for who I am and for being non-judgemental about others. Why is the latter important? Because we are all on a journey and we are all on different stages of our journeys. I am not an authority on the journeys of others and I therefore am not an expert on the stages at which they are. My life's mantra of "Live and let live" has been reinforced.