Quit hurrying and notice: Lessons from The Fault in Our Stars

I finished the book and went to bed thinking about Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in our Stars, and I woke up thinking about them.  Not just their love story, but their worldview, the way they faced each day knowing that time was real.

What is life like when you are sure your days are limited? Many of you may know this feeling too well, and many of you, like me, have probably been with loved ones in their final days. 

What do we realize when we finally understand that our stay is not infinite?

I guess we recognize how we use time and make decisions to spend it wisely. No more over accommodating or living in the world of “should” – instead, we live for what feels right, the proverbial jump from head to heart.

Like Hazel, who was self aware, slept when she was tired, felt her fear, appreciated a good breath, took care of others, and recognized that “some infinities are bigger than other infinities”, but she was thankful for her “little infinity”; the joy within the days she was given.

So I woke up this morning thinking about why we all run around so fast, focusing on something ahead of us that can’t be controlled - instead of being here, instead of recognizing the joy within our days.

And coincidentally, this morning several people sent me this blog about why the words “hurry up” can be so damaging.

Really, why are we hurrying everywhere? Why are we in the next thing and not here? Why do we find busy schedules and perfect punctuality more important than listening, watching, or noticing the world?

It’s not a simple answer, but this book did offer some clarity. The Fault in our Stars may initially appear to be depressing (teenagers with cancer fall in love…), but as I read it, it felt only true, a reminder of what we are missing as we rush through the world.

When you don’t have much time you don’t waste time being something you’re not. You just are. Present-moment experiences are exhilarating, feelings are felt, pain is real, love is realized.

I felt calm at this end of this book. I felt awake.

And if I had to choose a favorite page, it would be when Gus arrives at the hospital to see his friend Isaac who just lost his second eye due to cancer:

Gus burst into my room and shouted, ‘I have wonderful news!’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want to hear wonderful news right now,’ and Gus said, ‘This is wonderful news you want to hear,’ and I said, ‘Fine, what is it?’ and he said, “You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!”

That’s the truth.  And Gus understood that “good and long life” is a relative descriptor, but he knew it was the truth.

And no matter how fast you move, or how many things you schedule, or how much you worry, or how many people you please, you can’t escape the truth about life; you can’t escape the wonderful news.

And don’t linger on the “terrible moments” part of that quote, there is much more good; much more than you have ever imagined. 

Your only job is to notice.

I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. ~The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’ve spent my summer reading a lot of Young-Adult novels, my new favorite genre.  Click here to read about my experience with Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
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