Eyeball that bit of wisdom. Read it again. One more time to be sure. Okay then. Maybe you recognize some of that in yourself, I know I do.
An infernally astute quote from John’s debut novel, Looking for Alaska. “Infernal” because it illustrates a sort of personal hell I should be scrambling to escape. A loop whose deeply rutted trail I’m vaguely aware of at the best of times and crystal sharp at the worst of times.
Which is f**king tedious? I mean if I could be aware of all the tomorrows I tell myself I have and not take them for granted, I’ll get my goals accomplished, every day I would be compelled to complete them.
But like the blessed idiot that I am, I do stupid sh*t anyway. And I could analyze to kingdom come about the lies I convince myself are truths, their roots lay in self-doubt and lack of self-compassion. I’ve thought out of the whys and have finally sifted and understood what some of my actual truths are. Three years ago this introspection would’ve been beyond me but I feel lighter at the thought that I’ve come so far that I can see how I could fortify wobbly foundations and continue to build my person. Growth is always the goal.
But essentially the labyrinth is a fantastic illusion that could make us or dismantle us and perhaps it can only work out if we realize that within it we can make new paths. That we can take a chainsaw to some of the dead ends, and plant new saplings.
The past is a ghost. The future a phantom horizon. The present? It’s where we live. It’s not always pleasant but it’s where our hearts beat, the precipice of the next moment. Isn’t it awful how we conjure those ghosts and let them possess us? How we often try to dream out the possible futures thereby plugging up the goodness that the present can offer?
I read Looking for Alaska about two years ago, stayed up until morning to finish it only to have a feeling of mental suspension and an excellent view of the void. Alaska was a bitch, sure, but to be fair she was a kid who had a lot going on under the surface.
Miles was chasing his “Great Perhaps” and became, I believe, infatuated with her to the point of … stupidity I suppose.
Did he find it?
I can’t say with much certainty (I don’t recall a lot) but my interpretation is that the Great Perhaps might be the multitude of ledges at our disposal to leap off of in search of what we are capable of, to find our wings, realize how easily we could leave our self-imposed bubbles and live life as it should be.
With wide eyes, an open heart, some forethought and to discover that the wilderness we thought we’d mostly tamed was not subdued at all. That is, the external wildness of our physical world, and the thrashing creature that lives in all of us bound by the distorted chains of right and wrong, of duty and self-worth, who longs to run in the sun.
I’ve fallen many times, as many times as I’ve pushed back to my feet. I don’t always like myself but I’m on a journey of a greater love.
If When I do begin to gather small rewards in this quest maybe, just maybe, it’ll sink in that I can do and be anything I dream to be there by making my reality. A perilous mountain, sure, but I’ve got to start somewhere.
In closing, I leave you with two of my favourite quotes from this thought-provoking novel and I hope you can appreciate them as much as I have.
“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”
― John Green,
And an interesting perspective from Miles.
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”
― John Green,
Guys, don’t you dare give up. It’s okay to lie down a bit and gather courage but as long as you can rise up and fight, dismantle and learn from your obstacles, fall after fall, it will be worth it. You often find happiness but you can also make it and all the more gratifying. That’s what I tell myself anyway.
And he’s right if we must forgive someone we should begin with ourselves. That’s one way we can heal and move forward.
Are you similarly facing such challenges? How are you holding up? Or perhaps you’ve grown stronger than your fears and have a store of knowledge, what can you impart to us?
I hope you’re all well and thriving, if not I’m sending out virtual hugs!