One definition of maturity is the closing off of possibility. If one becomes a captain of a ship, then one cannot be a mathematician or an astronomer. This issue is addressed in Joseph Conrad’s novel-Shadow Lines.

The writer Jeff Goins suggested that one tries writing a letter to one’s kids or one’s younger self. In the previous entry, as part of the walking-reading group, I sketched a walk through Tripoli with Joyce’s Leopold Bloom.

 See entry

This is part of Tripoli Reading Group , which has evolved over the years in many directions through the changes which take place in this region.

See blog-

Enrich your life with a read a day

and related posts-




The “Shadow Lines” by Conrad, who is more famously known for his “Heart of Darkness” is an adventure partnership. Two characters of unequal qualities band together to survive some catastrophe. It is a radical vision of human community dissolved in its smallest possible unit, one older and one younger man. Together they face the myth of individual heroic adventures and realize the sure terrible limitations of their humanity.




As a father, one closes off some possibilities for one’s individual self, while letting those opportunities grow for one’s children and family. This is also described as the “Generous impotence of Fatherhood”. In individualistic cultures this complexity would be contradictory and yet, as one looks back over the years, one realizes the growth through the growth of others.


“Will they realize what you are doing?” one friend, an accountant by profession, a person who deals with money-matters and knows many intimate details of feuds challenged me.


“Not till they become parents themselves, ” I answered.


For more detailed versions..see blogs-Father’s Day Walk








Adopting a child as a “God Parent” was a concept I came to know a bit better after having interacted with some persons from Europe. This adds a different dimension to one’s life, and the meaning of communion, partnership and the shadows-long and short which one finds in these possibilities were an enriching experience.


Last graduation day of the Filipino school of Tripoli, I went and attended the ceremony as a special occasion. It was the graduation ceremony of a boy who I had first come to know at the pre-school stage. Now he is taller than me and a handsome young man. As we prayed together at the Church at Dahra, I came to know that one of the priests is also a Physics teacher.




Coming to Conrad’s more famous example of “Heart of Darkness” , one way to read the relation between  Marlow and Kurtz is that of a younger man seeking the older Kurtz as the link to a possibility of evil in all human beings. We can examine this in greater detail in later posts. The character Kurtz when included in a “letter to one’s younger self” opens up many possibilities…


–          Try to partner with someone younger


–          Maintain a joint journal of such walks and talks together



–          Try discussing a book and its underlying messages


The rich characters of Conrad’s “Shadow Lines” and “Heart of Darkness” can be a good starting point. This can be an interesting mentoring relationship in which there is growth for both parties concerned.


“All of Europe went into creating Kurtz”…the symbolic significance of these lines of Conrad in examining the monster Kurtz cannot be over-emphasized in today’s world.


* * *


Part of the 500 words a day challenge by writer -Jeff Goins.   

For a diarist the interesting thing will be being selective



About prashant bhatt

A psychologist, interested in mindfulness practices. I practiced medicine as a radiologist for 23 years in India and Libya as a radiologist before shifting to Canada. A regular diarist, journaling since 1983 Reading journal :
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