It’s Not What You Take, It’s What You Leave
“The thing I realize is it’s not what you take, its what you leave.”
– All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Do you ever wonder what marks our time? Are we merely just words on a page or memories in a photograph? People have always told me that life has one beginning and one ending … the rest is just a whole lot of middle. But I’d like to believe that life is like a novel. Sure, it has one concrete beginning and ending but it’s the middle of the novel that makes the most impact. The middle resonates with us readers and leads to that final moment when everything begins to give us some clarity; a final movement. We begin to feel and immerse ourselves in the characters and in their stories, so how can one possibly say that life is just a whole lot of middle? It provides it no substance and it implies that people are just muddling through life, doing the best they can with the things they have. Yet, we still continue to strive for numbers; from pounds on the scale to the amount of money in our bank accounts but realistically, how is any of that going to change when we’re dead; when we no longer cease to exist in our physical beings?
Now, all of you might be questioning why I was drawn to write my first review about the finality of death and our impact on this world while we’re stuck in the “middle“. Firstly, I have my own personal reasons which I may share in later posts but the main reason as to why I’ve decided to immerse myself in these ideas is because I was incredibly and profoundly consumed by these notions when reading Jennifer Niven’s YA novel All The Bright Places. This novel not only aroused my intellectual curiosity regarding the fascination of death and the “middle,” but ignited me to renew my passions and embraces my fears while continuing to make my middle meaningful. I resonated with the characters of Theodore Finch and Violet Marksey. I felt for these characters who lives had gone from good to bad to worse in a fraction of a second. I found myself relating to Violet and Theodore, particularly when they found themselves as outcasts in a world that is socially constructed by labels. Furthermore, I fell madly, truly and deeply in love with their stories both collectively and individually. I identified with them and suddenly, I felt like I became them.
Theodore Finch is a curious character by nature but his fascination with death ignited my own curiosity. I could not comprehend how anyone could stand on their high school bell tower, ready to plunge into the unknown (metaphorically that is). His curiosity created an innate fear within me but as I continued to read, that fear later flourished into realization. I began to realize how quickly this life could be taken away from me whether that be by my own hand or the hand of another far superior than myself. I realized my time here was precious and if I truly wanted to make my life matter, make my middle matter, I needed to plunge into the unknown. I needed to do something that scared me. Theodore Finch could be described as many things but a coward is not one of them.
Violet Marksey, also, had her own special affect on me. As I have previously implied earlier in my post, I have my personal reasons as to why this novel resonated with me and why the finality of death crossed my mind on multiple occasions while reading this novel. I understood Violet. I empathized with her traumatic response to the loss of her sister. I understood why she felt like an outcast. It was because I understood her pain. It was because no one could ever possibly feel the pain she had been experiencing by losing her sister; her best friend. I’ve lost a best friend; the greatest friend I had ever known, my mother, and despite how quickly time can heal all wounds there is always a part of you that’s a little empty. I’d be lying to you all if I said it goes away. It never goes away even when you try not to think about it. But isn’t that the point of all of this? To feel pain, joy and sorrow. To explore places that could lie in your own backyard. To take the metaphorical jump into the unknown because sometimes, you might come out stronger than you think you would. Sometimes, it takes a tragedy or an accidental meeting to change your perception on the world. I think we forget that sometimes. We forget that life has a funny way of working itself out in spite of all that we have planned for ourselves.
I loved this novel but not because it follows the conventions of young adult fiction. I loved this novel because I saw myself in these characters. I understood them. I empathized with them. And isn’t that the greatest joy? To read a novel that, with every turn of the page, resonates with you more and more. Maybe that’s the point of the middle. Maybe the point is for us to engage in conversations with people we never thought we’d have anything in common with. To venture into the world with nothing but our memories and to take in the moments where every problem we have becomes so much smaller in the grand scheme of things. To do the things that scare us because they might be the most memorable. When we die, our graves our marked from the day of our birth and the day of our death. However, what we fail to realize is the line that separates those two dates is a line full of moments and memories that make everything in the middle, the most important. Theodore Finch was right when he said that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave. So to all my readers, I encourage to make your mark on this world. To embrace you fears. To live fully. To live happy. The only words I can leave you with now is to have a great “line” and make the most of it. Because what we leave in this world is far superior than what we take from it.
Remember that and tomorrow might not seem so scary.
Posted in Keep Calm, Review On Tagged with: #Books, all the bright places, book review, jennifer niven, young adult fiction
To blog or not to blog? That is the question.
Ironically, I ask myself this every time I sit down to write a post. I consistently have these internal battles with myself; questions plaguing my mind about what to write, who would listen, how will people respond to my opinions, where would I find the inspiration or time to write and why was this so important to me. It was only until recently that I decided to answer my own questions. It was not the principle of putting my thoughts to paper. It was the principle of being able to share my thoughts and opinions while wanting to engage others to seek out their own inspirations and put it to use.
I believe that each of us have a purpose in this world. Whether that purpose be to inspire or challenge one another is up to us. So why am I writing this post? I write this post because I feel like the first step to being able to challenge or inspire someone is to tell them who you are. To be as candid as possible and that is what I wish to achieve to you, the reader, through this post.
So who I am?
A pretty hefty question. I could sum up all the positive qualities I see in myself or things I’m good at but I do not necessarily believe that, that will give you a strong interpretation of who I am. So where do I begin? Let’s start with the basics …
My name is Samantha Maurice but I prefer to go by Sam, so feel free to call me that if you’d like. I’m twenty-three years old and I grew up in Maple, Ontario. I’m currently studying Marketing Management at Seneca College, Markham Campus and I have a degree in English Literature from York University. I’m an avid reader; reading genres that span from fiction, mystery, biography and young-adult fiction just to name a few. My favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I don’t have a favourite musical genre that I listen to frequently (I like to call my iPod “Canada”, an ode to my country because of it’s diversity eh!). I can’t play a musical instrument and math, to me, is the enemy.
I enjoy singing … seriously. You can ask my shower and car, they think I deserve a Grammy and don’t even get my started on karaoke! I am a celebrity guru so ET Canada and ETalk I’m waiting for the phone call (maybe they lost my number or something?). Up until I was thirteen, I was convinced my Hogwarts letter got lost in the mail but the inner child in me is still convinced my parents kept it from me (they probably just couldn’t handle that kind of responsibility). I can’t cook to save my life and my room is kept in organized chaos.
I’d like to think I’m a good friend and more often then not, I allow people to take advantage of my kindness. I love to joke around in the most sarcastic way possible, which sometimes comes off as if I’m being rude. I post way to many selfies on Instagram. I post way to many inspiration quotes as my Facebook status. Actually, I think I post way to much on social media in general!
I have a serious addiction to Netflix. I’m convinced I received a law degree after binge watching all ten episodes of Making of a Murder as well as a medical degree from Grey/Sloan Memorial Hospital courtesy from all the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy (thank you Shonda Rhimes!). I have a soft spot for boy bands. The only language I speak is English. I’m extremely quiet when you first meet me because I like to observe people and get a sense of who someone is before I interact with them. You can tell how I’m feeling almost automatically, I have a terrible tendency to show my emotion on my face and in my actions. And if you ask me about One Tree Hill prepare for me to tell you that Brooke Davis and Lucas Scott were the greatest pairing of all time, regardless of how it all ended (Rest in peace Brucas. You are sorely missed by me).
I could continue to go on about who I am, what I like, what I hate, what I’m good and what I’m terrible at. But to you, my reader, I have to leave you with some mystery don’t I? I mean, what fun would that be … am I right? So, here’s what I can promise. I can promise to provide you with my honest thoughts and feelings about movies, music, books, news segments etc. I encourage you to ask me questions and provide me with ideas about things you’d like to hear my thoughts on. I believe this is a teamwork between you and I so feel free to drop me any ideas or even just introduce yourself.
With my final note, I encourage you all to be the voices whispered in the silence. To do the things that scare you. To stand by your opinions and to never have anyone tell you otherwise. This is my first post of many. I can’t wait to see what you all have to say.
Posted in About The Author Tagged with: #Books, #ChroniclesOfABlogger, #FirstPost, #IntroducingMe, #Movies, #TelevisionShows