Looking for a Meaning in Alaska

August 18, 2014
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Most of my friends perceive me as being overdramatic, as well as being skeptical of my way of thinking. But in my defense as John Green once said “ As a reader, I don’t feel a story has an obligation to make me happy. I want stories to show me a bigger world than the one I know.” John Green isn’t overrated in any aspect of our society, but he has been given the fame he deserves for his astounding, yet highly optimistic books, such as Looking for Alaska.

Looking for Alaska is more than the surface, a story of a boy falling for a girl who isn’t within his grasp. If you dig deeper you discover aspects of the book that is beyond anything that can be read with the eyes. Pudge discovers not only himself but discovers the way to live life, and seek the Great Perhaps. Pudge is addicted to reading the last words of famous people, before they pass on, especially the last words of Simon Bolivar, “He was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. “Damn it,” he sighed. “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” A labyrinth is a maze or something that someone can easily become lost. So what was Simon Bolivar conveying as to being the labyrinth? That was the question that arisen to Pudge and Alaska. What was Bolivar trying to escape? The world or the end of it?

This question led me to write an entire story for the newspaper titled “ The Labyrinth of Suffering or the Labyrinth is Suffering?” Within the article I challenged myself to think outside of the box, and take this question and dig deeper not only into the book, but within myself and my own mind. Here’s what I came up with:

“My labyrinth of suffering is the oblivious fact that all humans have to endure, the fact that there are so many questions left unanswered in the pursuit of the meaning of life and the pursuit of the meaning afterlife. The facts that all we really know about why were here is really, nothing at all. All we have is the philosophical beliefs of human nature by the famous philosophers and theorist, but really no scientific evidence stating any theories or beliefs stating how any can be true. As we stride through the tunnels and passageways of this mysterious labyrinth that Bolivar mentions in his last words, all we really use for a tool of route is our own self-judgment. So the way out of the labyrinth in my belief is to explore and find the true meaning of life. And how do we do so? What makes something meaningful in life?

I found myself walking, sitting, and standing around and thinking. Is the meaning of life, really just to have a meaning for life? Is the meaning for life for family? For the gift of friends? For the brink of dawn in the morning? For the way the sun sets in the evening? For the way the stars shine in the darkness of night? For the music that is your escape from the world after school? For the poor ice cream you devour on those lonely Friday nights watching Downton Abbey? For the lingering smell of coffee beans in Starbucks while rain pours down outside on those gloomy days? For the chance to sit next to the window during a red eye flight and being able to see city lights from 300 feet above? For the chance to survive what seemed to be something that seemed dreadful and impossible to survive at the time? For the chance to be able to inhale air, because without it you wouldn’t be alive?

What really makes one more meaningful than another? I realized the real true meaning of life does not have an exact definition. True Meaning is a made up concept and so, if that is the key to escaping suffering, we will never find it. So how do we live with the fact that there really is no meaning or truth behind how were suppose to live our life and what happens after we do? Miles says in Looking for Alaska "We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffering when they did." So the only way out of suffering is to believe ahead of time that things will fall apart, and when they do we would be ready for it? So I think one thing we have to understand is that there is no set way to be a person, and no set way to escape the labyrinth. And we have to accept that answer and move on and live and just bear the fact that everything we believe is uncertain, and that includes our fate. If you’re a religious person, then I believe the right word is faith. To have faith in the beliefs you choose to have faith in and if you don’t believe in religion believe in yourself, and be content with the fact we were put on this planet for who knows what reason, and at the end of the day be okay with that."

Writing this a few weeks ago, I still believe that the Meaning of Life isn’t a definition, just like Happiness isn’t a place, or a thing or a person. Happiness is a concept, a definition we build not on what others rely on as being true, but from what we gather from our own life expiriences and gradually build on a definition then. To me, happiness is when you stop desiring for material items, and people you wish were, and be content with the fact that your who you are. You’re the person staring back at you in the mirror, and before others accept you, you have to accept yourself and have faith in your abilities to achieve one of the most difficult displeasures that many lose, life. I remember hearing from my Life Skills teacher Ms. Diaz Freshman Year, Sean Covey’s 90/10 rule. 90% of things you can control in your life, but the 10% you can’t control, but it’s how you react to that 10%.

Some hardships in our life will come upon us despite the humbleness and goodness we live towards. But we have take those difficulties and stay strong, we cant fold into ourselves and self destruct, because we poccess qualities that are indestructible. We are greater than the sum of our knowledgable parts, and the energy we have in our bodies cannot be created and cannot be destroyed. We can only change shapes, sizes and manefestions. So we shouldn’t be afraid of anything, and that mindset also should be geared towards life. I’m not much of a religious person, put I pray and do good in hopes of good things coming back towards me, as well as living a life to my own content.

John Green has taught me so much about myself and life. Authors who have this much power on my nerves and beliefs certainly should be worth writing about.





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