Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So, sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed*

It wants to be noticed because it “enjoys its elegance being observed” (Green 138). I think that is what John Green calls us to see in his novel, The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve just finished re-reading it, and it has put several existential queries into my brain space. I promise, this won’t be a blog post determining if the work of Sisyphus matters. But, it will be an invitation to mull over some big ideas we’re often too scared to consider.

Green writes “the universe wants to be noticed” (138). He asks the reader to observe not only the small things (e.g. the rings on a tree cut down too early) but also the unimaginable, the unattainable (e.g. tasting the stars, catching the sunlight). Too often, and too easily, the world jumbles together into a series of undefined moments vaguely remembered or forgotten.

For example, in one of my classes, I have a student who cannot communicate her thoughts in English. Because of some developmental delays, she cannot understand the spoken language, either. However, as we watched the film “Frozen” in class, I watched her move her lips to the English words on the screen whenever a song played. It was like watching a newborn tongue her first words, making innocent, yet eloquent mistakes. In that moment, I noticed the universe. This small elegant act meant nothing to anyone else in the room; she possibly didn’t even realize what she was doing. But, for me, it broke open a huge realization. All I try to do is stumble through this unknown forming thoughts of which I do not always know the exact meaning.

But, I don’t have to know. I just have to notice.

I know that as I accumulate more years and more experience, this memory will fade, and the only recollection will be this post. And, that's fine. Because each day the universe reveals herself in a new way. This morning, my middle aged, male co-worker commented, “Kathryn, you have a splendid hair band today” revealing that I matter in some small way to him (knowledge previously unbeknownst to me). And, tomorrow, I will uncover something else.

I am not saying one should remember everything or commemorate every moment in words or photographs. I am saying that despite our inevitably failing encoding, storage, and retrieval of memories, to have them—to notice the universe. Question the shadows that play puppets on your picnic blanket. Create constellations that make sense to you. Swing on a swing knowing that “no matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around” (81).

Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. Dutton Books. New York. 2012. 

*This title (minus So,) comes directly from The Fault in Our Stars (138)

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