The Great Perhaps

I just read a book that I’ve been meaning to read for quite awhile but never got around to. My book club just happened to pick this author and since I had read a couple of his other books, I thought I would go back and read his first. The book is Looking for Alaska by John Green. Like other books I’ve read by him, it has a generous helping of both humor and tragedy.

At the beginning of the book, the main character, Miles, tells his parents he wants to go away to boarding school to seek “the Great Perhaps” which is from a quote by Francois Rabelais. (He likes to memorize the last words of famous dead people.) I think Miles wants to live a bigger life and experience more than what he currently is. Miles’ favorite class is Religion, and he learns that Buddha felt that suffering comes from desire. Thus, to eliminate our suffering, we must eliminate our desire. Miles eventually decides that one must forgive to survive suffering. Of course, that is what HE has to do in order to get past the pain of HIS suffering.

This was a timely read for me because I’ve been dealing with two situations that are related to this novel. 1) I’m having trouble forgiving which is causing me to suffer, and  2) I have a lot of desires right now that are going unfulfilled.

I’m not going to go into a lot of specifics about my mother and how she brought up my four sisters, my brother, and me. I thought I had personally forgiven her for things she said and did. Then I thought that maybe I’d forgiven her but was having difficulty with her because I had not forgotten. Now I’m wondering if I truly have forgiven her. I think that if she were just a stranger living with me, I would find her merely annoying, but the things she says and does now bring back painful memories, and I find myself feeling angry and resentful. Then I end up feeling guilty and wondering…am I going to feel even more guilt once she dies?

At the same time, I have all of these dreams I want to pursue…desires I want to fulfill but can’t. I want to move. I want to live someplace with cooler weather, mountains, and lakes. North Texas just isn’t doing it for me. I feel like the sun is zapping me of my energy, and I’m tired of the hives I’ve got from all the sun exposure.  I think I may be ready for a change of career as well. I’m exhausted and come home each day with terribly sore muscles. My husband is restless right now, too, working part time at a job he doesn’t like for very little pay. We feel like we’re in a holding pattern, going in circles, waiting for something else, for something bigger than this life we currently live. This never-ending heat wave just makes it worse.

I’m hoping that just being more aware of these two desires, my desire to truly forgive and my desire for change, which have me stuck in “the labyrinth” will bring me some measure of relief. In the past I’ve always been able to set goals and find satisfaction from working toward those goals, but I think that for things to change, something beyond my control is going to have to happen. I think I’m just going to have to depend on God to make the next move. It’s the waiting that’s the hard part.



This photo is in the public domain and was found at Creative Commons:

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