Finding the Way (through a single book)
Updated: Aug 28, 2018
In the first post in this series, I'd try to understand the many connections between the stages of a life.
“Time is also a twisted river, and it plays games with fate.”
Life is full of paradoxes. I can say that I have been writing all my life, but also that I have never studied writing. Wrote a play when I was eleven years old and two novels and countless short stories in high school. But then, I shelved all those journals filled with precursors to fiction and decided to be a scientist.
Life is also full of contradictions. I can say that I tried to be a scientist all my life, or rather that it was my fate to be a writer, and science was just how I went about knowing the world.
The paradoxes of life can be solved by experiment, but the actions that untie them could be quite mysterious. My first book about science was purchased by my father while was I perusing the stacks of an old bookstore in Buenos Aires. The Building Blocks of the Universe is a lively story of the chemical elements and how the periodic table was built. I soon forgot my aim to be a journalist and started a path that would take me to the hard sciences—I built with a friend a chemistry lab and what vaguely resembled a sky observatory. Eventually, the growth of these interests would vanish what was left of my writer’s vocation.
But time is also a twisted river, and it plays games with fate. If you look deeper, you can see other parts of my life—past and present—exposed in that moment at the bookstore. Parts that one would miss in a linear and only logical view. The book my father gave me was written by Isaac Asimov, who was a biochemist—as I will be one day—and immigrated to the United States—as I will, also in a future time linked to my career. And Asimov learned English as a teenager—as I would—although well enough to write what, for some accounts, would be over 300 books.
Also like me, and this being something I couldn’t possibly imagine as a ten-year-old in a bookstore, only familiar with Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov would turn away from science to become a science fiction writer.
There's a final twist in those echoes of future time affecting my past. I can now see another sign of the direction my life would take. A sign that was there, clear as day and present every year for me to know.
It is that my father, who bought me that life-changing book, was born on a 4th of July.