I’ve read a lot of books in my life. I mean a lot. I am a voracious reader; always have been, always will be.
But last night, I finished a book that may just change the way I look things from here on out. And while I enjoy most books I read because I can always find some redeeming quality and because I can appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into writing a book, rarely have I come across a book that has truly changed the way I view life.
“And this greatest of novels was…?” you ask.
My answer: John’s Greens The Fault in Our Stars
I don’t think I give away anything in this blog post. But, in case I did, and you haven’t read the book, and you’re really worried about it being spoiled, maybe it’s best not to ready this post. But I do think you should go read the book. And then read my post.
A YA book. But a book that I believe everyone should read. It’s perspective on life, death, love, relationships and so much more was so beautiful and heart wrenching and honest. I couldn’t put it down. Finished it in about 2 days (could probably be condensed down to less than 24 hours if you took out the time I was sleeping, working, eating, etc.). The book is filled with witty banter; highly intelligent commentary on the world, people, relationships and more; and an honest insight into the fears of not only these teenagers, but of just about anyone who actually sits down and thinks about life every now and then.
“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” A lesson the characters learn in this book. To explain to those who have not read the book, nor considered this fact (as I had not, prior to reading this): there are an infinite amount of values between the numbers 0 and 1. There is an even larger amount of infinite values between 0 and 2, 0 and 10, 0 and 100. That doesn’t change the fact that each difference contains an infinite number of values. “Some infinities are (just) bigger than other infinities.”
These two teenagers, whose days are surely numbered, have reminded me that all of our days are numbered, in some way or another. Thankfully, I don’t know the exact number. But numbered they are, nonetheless. And because of that, they should never be taken for granted. Experience the world around you. Take it all in, live in the moment, do the things you enjoy doing without apologies, just like Augustus. Your infinity is precious. It will be smaller than some and bigger than others. But enjoy your infinity, and the people who make it uniquely yours.
The Husband is a unique and special part of my little infinity. He’s different from family in that I chose him to journey through our infinities together. I love my mom, dad, brother, all my family. And they, too, are unique parts of my infinity, and without them, it wouldn’t be close to the same. But the Husband. I chose him. And I feel like that gives his presence in my infinity – and vice-versa, mine in his – a little something special. And I can see, with even more clarity than ever before, how important it is to live in the moment with him, to tell him how special he is to my infinity and that, if my infinity were to end tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret a second of the time we’ve spent together because he has made my time here so amazing.
And you know what? If I’m his grenade, or if he’s mine – if we’re, one day, going to explode in some way, by dying or leaving the other or some other sad fate – and we hurt the other, that’s okay. I wouldn’t have it any other way, in fact. I’ve lived my life for too long being afraid of being hurt by people. But, as the novel states, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” Well so do I, Mr. Green. So do I. The people in my life are here after careful consideration, many mistakes and losses. But the people who are in my life are here for a reason, and I wouldn’t change my choices or a single one of those reasons. After all, without pain, we wouldn’t know joy, right kids? We will get hurt along the way; there will be bumps in our infinities. But that makes the happiness all the important and enjoyable. While the characters in the novel may scoff at this idea (as well they should, for who knows pain much more than those with cancer?), I think, deep down, they knew all along this pain would come, but that made enjoying the happy moments all the more important, and they know that their joy, however fleeting, was worth their pain.
I also learned, through the eyes of an honest teenager who has no idea what she believes in, that death is a frightening thing, when you really think about it. Whatever your beliefs are about what happens to our souls (if you do, in fact, believe we have some sort of ethereal part of us that lives on), that does not change the fact that our bodies go into a hole in the ground, never again to be seen. Or are turned into ashes. You can fear dying. You can fear oblivion. You can fear the unknown. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are all going to have to face this at some point in our lives. And dwelling on death does not let you enjoy your little bit of infinity on earth.
I put off reading this novel for quite some time. I had heard amazing things about it, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to read something that inherently had to be sad. Its two main characters are battling cancer, after all. And now that I’ve read it, I feel like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of all the lessons I’m to take away from this novel. The honesty of the narrator is frightening at times. But it forces you to analyze you own thoughts, your own actions, and decide if you’re truly living your little piece of infinity, or if you’re just watching it go by, too scared to move.
I, for one, don’t want to be too scared anymore. Watching movies is great, but living your own adventures? Now that’s something special.