Some truth for Valentine’s Day

It’s been awhile. I can’t believe I wrote here only three times last year. I’ll talk about my reasons for my absence in another post (or maybe not if the past ten months are anything to go by).

What I will talk about is why I’m crawling out of my WordPress hibernation for.

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Coincidentally, my reading for today fell on 1 Corinthians 13. For those of you who don’t know, this is where the famous “Love is patient, love is kind…” verse comes from. So when I opened my Bible and saw this, my first thought was that I am too single for this.

But then, as most things are with God, He surprises me by dropping some knowledge when I least expect it.

I used to think that this whole chapter is basically what the pastor/priest/chaplain/minister says in every wedding I’ve ever attended.

False.

The first three verses of this chapter are just massive truth bombs. And with everything that’s been going on in the world right now, I genuinely believe that we are in desperate need to be reminded of this every day.

Whatever cause we are fighting for, we can always support or defend it with love and respect for our fellow human beings. Because in the end, no matter how witty or intelligent or amusing or impressive or catchy or persuasive or viral our words and actions are, if we do not have love, nothing happens.

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I’ve fallen in love with words on paper: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It’s been more than a year since I last wrote a post like this. I don’t even know why I stopped in the first place. But earlier today, I was ten foot deep in thought about where my life’s heading and I flipped through my notebook where I write down all my favorite quotes. This book’s entry tickled my heart.

Me Before You tells the story of Lou, a 26-year-old woman who has never really done anything spectacular in her life, and Will, a man who squeezed every adventure out of his life until an accident turned him into a depressed quadriplegic. Lou is hired to be Will’s caregiver and everyday companion when she loses her job at a cafe. At first, they butt heads. Gradually though, they find comfort and possibilities in their differences. And, in doing so, they open themselves up to a whole new world where hurt and healing are one and the same.

Even though I read this almost a year ago, I remember thinking to myself then, I’m Lou… minus the love interest. And earlier as I read the words I wrote down from this book, I can’t help but think, I’m still Lou… minus the love interest.

His eyes met mine. They were infinitely weary.

They looked like they were really happy together. Then again, what did a photograph prove?

The thing about being catapulted into a while new life… is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.

There are things you don’t notice until you accompany someone with a wheelchair.

Here, I could hear my thoughts. I could almost hear my heartbeat. I realized, to my surprise, that I quite liked it.

There are normal hours, and then there are invalid hours, where time stalls and slips, where life – real life – seems to exist at one remove.

“No. Stay for a bit. Talk to me.” He swallowed. His eyes opened again and his gaze slid up to mine. He looked unbearably tired. “Tell me something good.”

“This might sound revolting to you, but astonishingly, Will Traynor, not all girls get dressed just to please men.”

Girls like Lissa trade on their looks for so long they don’t think they have anything else.

It could be oddly dispiriting, the blank refusal of humankind to even attempt to function responsibly.

I needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow or fail, but that life did go on. That we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only God’s purpose to understand.

I felt the music like a physical thing; it didn’t just sit in my ears, it flowed through me, around me, made my sense vibrate.

You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.

“And I cannot for the life of me see how you can be content to live this tiny life. This life that will take place almost entirely within a five-mile radius and contain nobody who will ever surprise you or push you or show you things that will leave your head spinning and unable to sleep at night.”

Some mistakes just have greater consequences than others.

There is nothing more terrifying that my sister’s thinking face when it is trained directly on you.

And finally, possibly the most eyeopening of them all…

Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury.

Reading these lines in the emotional state I’m currently in, I honestly don’t know what to feel, kind of like how I didn’t know what to feel after I finished reading the book. No, I am not content to live a tiny life, and yes, I know that as long as I’m alive and breathing, there are possibilities. My heart and brain can process that. They just don’t know how to apply that in real life.

Maybe if I read the sequel to the book, I’ll find the answer there. I doubt it though. Answers like that you can’t find anywhere else but yourself.

I’ve fallen in love with words on paper: Louise Murphy’s The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

Louise Murphy’s The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is one of those books that, upon reading the last page, you go, “Huh.” It’s a story about a brother and sister who are on the run from Nazi soldiers and who find themselves under the care of an old woman in the middle of the forest. I finished reading this book months ago, but as I was skimming through my notebook wherein I write down my favorite lines from books and films, a couple of the lines I got from this one in particular struck me so I’ve decided to share them with you.

Now, I have no idea what Louise Murphy’s beliefs are or how she wanted God and religion to be represented in her novel. But I know that many people, when in the midst of unspeakable pain and tragedy, often ask how God – if He does exist, and I believe He does – could allow such terrible things to happen, and I found the most beautiful response to that in one of the pages of this book.

“It didn’t happen fast enough. Half of Poland died before God helped us.”
“God’s time isn’t our time.” Starzec sighed.
“God shouldn’t have let this killing happen. God should have stopped it.”
Starzec gestured at the trees and the forest around them. “Do you see God? Where is he, you fool?”
Doby flushed and shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“God didn’t come down and kill us. I don’t see God shooting children and priests. None of us met God beating up Jews and shoving them into railroad cars. This is men doing the murdering. Talk to men about their evil, kill the evil men, but pray to God. You can’t expect God to come down and do our living for us. We have to do that ourselves.” (p.207)

There are a couple of other lines too that are just as beautiful.

Wasting a little shows you believe in tomorrow. (p.17)

They had leaped into love, and the whole world, the dark trees and the fields, shimmered with bright light. (p.149)

God cannot see the darkness man has created and not throw out light to combat it. (p.175)

Life is sometimes a great waiting. (p.178)

We can never let the world take our memories of love away, and if there are no memories, we must invent love all over again. (p.297)

I’ve always had this unquenchable interest in stories of war and of the Holocaust. For the life of me I can never comprehend how something so evil and inhuman found its way in the history of mankind and be caused by mankind itself. But I find so much hope in the fact that no matter how powerful and destructive such evil was, it still lost in the end. It’s true that there is darkness in this world, but there is also and always light.

What shall I write tonight

Shall I write about my hopes for tomorrow

Or my accomplishments for today?

Or maybe the regrets that continue to haunt me,

Or the secrets I can’t say

Out loud because when the sun is up

We’re all critics passing judgment,

But when the light gives way to darkness

We all cower in our blankets.

There’s something about the absence of light

That, in me, ignites a spark

To divulge every lie, every sin, every pitiful thought

Because we’re all the same in the dark.

But when the sun rises

And the birds sing their tune,

When you see what I’ve written

Underneath the full moon,

When you wake up tomorrow

To welcome another new day,

If you read the things I write tonight

I wonder what you’ll say.

Will you judge me for being honest

At a time when we find comfort in our shame

When the ugly and the truth are identical

Or will you point to me and say,

This girl of contradictions

Of anxiety, doubt and spite

This girl reminds me so much of me

Before I sleep every night?

 

So what shall I write tonight

Shall I write the words you wish to see?

Or shall I write the ugly truth

Whose words may set me free?

I’ve fallen in love with words on paper: David Levithan’s Every Day

Unlike the other books I’ve written about, it’s only just the words I’ve fallen in love with. Not the story, not the characters. I might even go so far as to say that I disliked the characters with a passion. I think my problem with it is that it tries to present itself as a story about this true and once-in-a-lifetime kind of love (which it is for some people) when, to me, it really is more of just a careless, bordering on infatuated, kind of love.

Every Day tells the story of A, a being who wakes up in a different body every day. A’s gender depends on the body he ends up being in. While in the body of a male high school student, A falls in love with the guy’s unappreciated girlfriend, Rhiannon. From there on out, driven by “true love”, A spends his days finding ways to come back to her without taking any consideration of the body he is in nor the kind of life the owner of that body has. In the end, he faces the choice to either continue on with their unconventional liaison or make the ultimate sacrifice and leave her in order to give her a better (meaning normal) life.

There are things about the story I can’t let off – like how a person can meet someone for the first time, fall crazy in love with her right away and then proceed to stalk her endlessly, or even how A takes it upon himself to choose the second best guy (because obviously, he’s the first) for Rhiannon to move on to.

But regardless of what I feel about the characters and the plot, I can’t deny the fact that this book has tons of beautiful lines. Here are the ones that stood out to me.

After a while, you have to be at peace with the fact that you simply are. (p.2)

We all contain mysteries, especially when seen from the inside. (p.3)

And being best friends is always about the benefit of the doubt. (p.33)

Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen. (p.56)

People take love’s continuity for granted, just as they take their body’s continuity for granted. They don’t realized that the best thing about love is its regular presence. (p.58)

I am a firm believer that every person, young or old, has at least one good story to tell. (p.68)

The sound of words as they’re said is always different from the sound they make when they’re heard. (p.71)

“And I know that, deep down, I mean the world to him.”
“Deep down? That sounds like settling to me. You shouldn’t have to venture deep down in order to get to love.” (p.72)

This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. (p.175)

I’ve known this for a while, but you can know something for years without it really hitting you. (p.268)

I wanted loved to conquer all. But love can’t conquer anything. It can’t do anything on its own. It relies on us to do the conquering on its behalf. (p.281)

If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other. (p.320)

Beautiful, right? Especially that last one.

Overall, I am in no way saying the book is bad. How can a book with such quotes be bad? The story just isn’t for me. A lot of my friends love the book. A lot of them admire the love I seem to cannot see between A and Rhiannon. Their love just isn’t my kind of love, I guess.

I’ve fallen in love with words on paper: John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines follows child prodigy Colin Singleton and his attempt to come up with a perfectly logical reason behind the 19 times he’s been dumped by girls who share the name Katherine and to create a theorem that predicts the future of all relationships. Accompanying him in his big adventure of initial self-pity that will eventually lead to self-discovery is Hassan who is fictional proof but proof nonetheless that, contrary to popular opinion, Muslims can be perfectly likable people. Along for the ride is Lindsey, a girl they meet in the small Tennessee town, who, in my opinion, is the heart of the story.

This is the third book I’ve read that is written by John Green (the first one being The Fault in Our Stars and the second one Looking For Alaska). I have to admit, reading the first half of the book was a little bit of a struggle to me since a lot of it had to do with Colin being pretty whiny about his love life or lack thereof. Until I remembered that I’ve also had my fair share of whiny and self-absorbed moments. And somewhere toward the latter half of the story, I realized that a big reason why we feel unhappy with our lives is our belief that we’re entitled to everything we want. And that realization was brought about by some of the following lines:

What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet not think that life asks more of you than watching TV. (p.33)

I don’t think God gives a shit if we have a dog or if a woman wears shorts. I think He gives a shit about whether you’re a good person. (p.87)

You can love someone so much. But you can never love people as much as you can miss them. (p.105)

Getting people to like you is easy, really. It’s a wonder more people don’t do it. (p.144)

Do you ever wonder whether people would like you more or less if they could see inside you? (p.140)

I feel like, like, how you matter is defined by the things that matter to you. You matter as much as the things that matter to you do. (p.200)

It’s easy to get stuck. You just get caught in being something, being special or cool or whatever, to the point where you don’t even know why you need it; you just think you do. (p.201)

Maybe life is not about accomplishing some bullshit markets. (p.201)

It’s funny, what people will do to be remembered. (p.201)

And the moral of the story is that you don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened. (p.208)

Breaking up isn’t something that gets done to you; it’s something that happens with you. (p.208)

While I definitely don’t love the story as much as I did The Fault in Our Stars, I love how it has a healthy dose of thoughts on life and people and growing up. I especially love that Colin Singleton, weird and slightly annoying as he may be, is really us, even if we hadn’t been in 19 relationships by the time we turned 17 years old.