John Green’s approach to the ultimate existential problem (time) is rather brilliant. He has demonstrated with gut-wrenching accuracy, what it is like to feel like a ticking time-bomb, and what makes this love story exceptionally thought-provoking, is that it actually IS thought-provoking. Not simply because of its premise, but the way in which it is dealt with; seemingly mundane, and in every way imaginable, extraordinary.
For children to be grappling with life-crises most adults postpone until old age is heart-breaking as it is, but also unfathomably eye-opening. And the questions raised, while paint an ugly picture of the cruel reality of being ill, help extricate nuances (by definition, small and seemingly insignificant) which are surprisingly powerful in changing one’s mindset about why we are here, why it is transient, and whether or not that’s ok.
I was shook to the core by this narrative, and though it was becoming painful to sob uncontrollably every few pages or so, it was also incredibly cathartic because every single word confirmed a reality I know exists, but which I would never want to experience for myself.
The Fault in our Stars is unprecedented. It is raw, ugly, spellbinding, beautiful, infuriating, heart-breaking, and most importantly, it forces you to feel.
It has dawned on me that all things—whether in or out of existence—pertain to the ultimate existential crisis. Not simply as relevant to us as human begins, but as fundamental as what it means to be a rock. To be a collection of molecules devoid of what we as humans deem as ‘awareness’.
It would take a lifetime to decipher the enigma of what life is, and at best it seems, the most satisfactory conclusion is: that we simply do not know. And it can seem disheartening, not knowing what it is about life we cling onto so desperately, and why we fear its loss the most, even though there are losses far more excruciating within the realm of our experience: loss of hope, loss of freedom, loss of self, of dignity, of time.
And there it is: time. The one commodity we falsely assume we have enough of. And once you have managed to grapple with its uncompromising nature, once you think you have planned your life well enough to do all that matters to you with the time you've been given, you only wind up with more questions than answers; and not the kind of answers you find, but the kind of answers you concoct. And we do so, because not knowing what lurks in the dark is infinitely more terrifying than the death sentence itself.
So what it is about, this 'life'? Is it about living it as comfortably as you can manage? Is it about self-actualization? About leaving something behind? Is it ultimately about deciphering it? And most importantly, is this 'meaning of life' universal, or is it as personal as it can possibly get?
The most comfort I have found in questioning virtually everything there is to question has been this: That most certainly, the only thing certain thing about life and death is uncertainty. And I’ve found that acknowledging this fact has in many ways relinquished my responsibility of a life-long pursuit for answers I will never get. In some ways, that is the simultaneous beauty and pitfall of philosophy: raising more unanswerable questions, but broadening horizons in the process.
So what do you prefer? Do you prefer never loving, never laughing, never experiencing neither the peaks nor the valleys of life, so that once death comes, you can easily part with this ‘life’ you have not lived? Or do you want experience every beautiful and ugly facet of life alike, so that when it comes to part with it, you simply cannot?
It seems to me that if parting with my life is not the most tragic, frightening, and unbearable thing imaginable, then my dreams have not been big enough; that I have not been living a full enough life. And the last thing I'd want on my death-bed (or within the last seconds of still retaining my consciousness) is feeling like: 'I cannot believe I could, and I didn't.'
I believe not having anything to lose is the most tragic thing about loss.