Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!
The book that inspired this conversation:
What It Is About:
It weaves together the stories of a handful of people before and after the collapse of a civilization largely taken out by a super-flu that spread quickly. I don’t want to give too much away and the official summary is wordy but it’s one of the BEST books I’ve read this year.
What I said about it:
” It was brutal, thought-provoking and just a real masterpiece.” Read my full review here!
What It Got Me Thinking About:
How I live!!
Normally these posts are super focused on one particular thing but Station Eleven got me thinking about a lot of things but, when I reflected on them, they all could be filed under “how I live”. I try to be really conscious of how I live — my effect, my happiness and my joy, what I’m putting out there/leaving behind, how I’m growing and what I’m focused on. I try to think at the end of each day, “if this was my last day on earth would I be happy with how I lived it?” and then in the morning I just tell myself to do it better and remind myself this new day is a blank slate.
That being said, there are a lot of days where I don’t like my answer. And there are a lot of days that turn into weeks that I get so consumed with LIFE that I don’t even think about it. I try to be so present and conscious about how I’m living but sometimes living just gets in the way of being mindful of it…which isn’t a BAD thing when I’m happy about how I’m living.
There were 3 major things that Station Eleven really had me reflecting on concerning HOW I LIVE:
1. How “surviving is insufficient” — The beautiful thing about the civilization after it all collapsed in Station Eleven is how, after all they had been through, they didn’t just want to be a society that survived this super-flu that wiped out everything. Surviving wasn’t good enough — they wanted to rebuild, thrive, find joy and just try to do better and learn from it. The Traveling Symphony’s (bc art and storytelling prevail!!) slogan on their wagon was “Surviving Is Insufficient” and it resonated with me so much. So many days I feel like I’m just in straight survival mode. Just trying to survive the day. Willing it to be over. And yes, some days that’s the best it’s going to be — a triumph to just survive the day. But that is not the sort of habit I want to get into and I feel like it’s so easy for me to go through my work day and and my work week and I just try to SURVIVE until the weekend. Survival mode is not enough for me as a life strategy. I know that but sometimes I let myself get into it. I’ve always loved the quote from Oscar Wilde —
And honestly that is the rut I get stuck into sometimes. I’m existing and surviving alright but I’m not REALLY living.
2. On what I make important: In the book, one day is normal and within the next week everything collapses and soon everything you were used to is gone — plumbing, electricity, internet, your job, fame, Friday nights out to the bar etc. All those things become relics and we see that as the story shows threads from BEFORE and then those from after. The things people are worried about and seem so damn significant to them before vs. after is a startling difference.
No more internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in doing so, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.
It made me think so much about how obsessed with all my screens and my internet life and my tv shows, etc and how fleeting they are. How when our internet goes out or my phone dies and I FEEL LIKE GOING CRAZY. I can’t live. I think of how I can get lost in the internet and suddenly it is 5 hours later. How, if they world ended and I survived, that the things I’ve placed as important in my life would mostly be rendered useless. And that’s not to say that I can’t ENJOY these things or that they are evil but I’ve realized how they consume me and how I should be mindful of my attachment to THINGS and how I can get so fixated on something so insignificant.
3. On being remembered: There’s this one character who ponders immortality and what it is to be remembered, what they want to be remembered for and all the people they remember — how they become immortal in his mind. Memories are a funny thing. I think a lot of people I’ve lost in my life, people I used to know and grew away from, brief encounters with strangers, etc. So many things color our memories — time, perspective, etc. Someone passed recently that I didn’t know but had an impact on me and I wept as I watched their memorial video — how alive they seemed and inspiring they were. How they embraced life. I wondered if my life would translate that way. I am morbid so sometimes I wonder what people would say at my funeral if I died. How they’d feel. What would they tell their kids or friends or family about me? It always makes me reflect on if how I’m living is how I want to be remembered. How do I want to be remembered as a blogger? As a family member? As a friend? As someone you met briefly? Obviously I want to be remembered favorable but what else do I want to be remembered for? I don’t have the exact answer but I want to at least be remembered for being a person who really LIVED. Who loved. Who inspired in some small way. Was kind and genuine.
There’s nothing like reading an apocalyptic that is so realistic and that could SO easily happen to make you think about how you live. Which is a-okay with me because I want to LIVE a life that I can be proud of and enjoy so reflection is good for my soul. I don’t want to do this life on auto-pilot. I want to experience the good and the bad and the in-between. I want to connect. To share in humanity. I want to learn and grow. I want to be remembered in all my messy glory as a human who tried their best and died feeling like, despite the bumps along the way, they did it right.
What inspires you when you think of how you live? Do you have any life mottos or mantras that guide how you live? Did anything I said resonate with you?