What if you were unhappy with your life and given a second chance? Or a third chance? And one more after that? What if you had the opportunity to undo all of your life’s regrets; big and small? Where does one draw the line and say ‘yes I am finally content’?
What does it take to live a happy life? For some it is fame, for others it is health, wealth, knowledge, children or adventure. None of these objectives would come into play unless we have perspective - “Its not what you look at that matters, its what you see.” In a nut shell this is the message that is conveyed in “The Midnight Library” by the English author Matt Haig.
The female protagonist Nora Seed has seemingly grown in the shadow of her brother, striving and failing to live up to her father’s expectations, hopeless in love and with a non-existent career, despite several aspirations to be a musician, glaciologist, swimming champion or a professor. Drowning in the depths of despair she overdoses in an attempt to end the existential crisis that is her life and lands in the land of limbo aka as ‘The Midnight Library’. Aided by her old school librarian she navigates through different paths of her life that the library offers while undoing her regrets.
This is a simple read, as is its message. One that we as humans overlook most days. The book compels us to review our stance on what is important in life. We are so engrossed in achieving the best, being at the top that we often overlook what is in front of us, the simple things that lead to joy in our lives. We forget to live. We realise the significance of small things when they are at the brink of being snatched away, or when the angel of death is staring us in the face. Once the end is nigh it becomes glaringly obvious that it is not what we want, it is what to make of what we already have that is crucial to a happy and content life. Nora Seed is given choices, which make her realise that taking one step leads to a chain reaction of endless possibilities but there is no such thing as a perfect life. In her continuous efforts to find acceptance and love from those around her, it is time and again impressed upon her that it is hope and love that are the driving force of life, but love that doesn’t necessarily bud from companionship but starts within, with self love. If you do not love yourself, do not expect others to admire in you what you cannot appreciate in yourself.
This book is written in a very non-complex, easy to read manner. There are no heavy metaphors or complicated writing techniques to spruce up the narrative. Just like the author advocates for the simple things in life that matter the most, he promotes this deep message for the way of life in the simplest of words. It is thought provoking. “You do not have to understand life, you just have to live life.”