It was 2003 when I first read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Back then, I was on a journey to reading anything I could get my hands on. I would often approach my English teacher for more books, I'd frequently stop by his bookshelves and admired his collection. I devour book after book and return them in no time. Then he gifted me a copy of the national bestseller.
A couple of months ago, stuffed in a box full of books, I found the same copy.
The tattered book had seen better days. I opened it to find water stains on the first few pages but it still
clearly contained the personalized note from my teacher:
"Rocio, enjoy this inspiring work of literature, I can only hope that you find pleasure in it. Read on!"
I decided to read it again.
5 Things I Learned from The Autobiography of Malcolm X
1. He had many hustles and adapted to every city he lived in. “The main thing you got to remember is that everything in the world is a hustle.”
2. Books gave him a new beginning after a life of crime. "I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive."
3. Don't be afraid to fail, it's a part of life. Don't let your failures define you, instead use them as fuel and keep moving forward. “Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so 'safe,' and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”
4. If you've hit rock bottom, there's no place to go but up.“In fact, once he is motivated no one can change more completely than the man who has been at the bottom. I call myself the best example of that.”
5. Keep working your butt off and always step up your game. “Anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you're both engaged in the same business – you know they're doing something that you aren't.”
Having read it for the second time, I have more an appreciation for it. I now understand most of the stories and the work it took to create such a wonderfully written book. As a much-matured writer (at least since 2003), I truly respect the work and effort it took to bring this piece to life.
I agree with the personalized note that's inscribed in red ink on the first page – it's an inspiring work of literature. The stories are incredible and the language and talent that Alex Haley had in order to weave it, are phenomenal. I can't wait to read Roots: The Saga of an American Family.