Thoughts on "The Midnight Library"


Thoughts on "The Midnight Library"

Summary: (spoiler alert)
"The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig explores the concepts of regret, life potential, and connection through the lens of woman who is allowed to travel between different realities of her own within the multiverse. The main character Nora Seed lives as a depressed music store clerk who teaches piano on the side. As any other person, Nora has faced many pivotal decisions in her life, and we find her in a state really wallowing on the perception that at every juncture she has always chosen the path of greatest failure. It is in this state that she discovers her cat is dead. Nora considers her cat Voltaire to have been her only remaining companion, so losing him is enough to push Nora's thoughts into the suicidal.

Nora follows through on her suicidal thoughts, and doesn't quite make it to the other side. Instead, she discovers a library in the life-death-limbo-dimension that allows her consience to travel the multiverse and taste the different variations of her life that branch off with every decision she's made. Nora visits realities where she becomes that Olympic athlete she could have been, the renowed scientists she might have become, the rockstar she almost was, and many more.
Each life offers perspective on some of the realities she yearns for in her original llife, sheds light on the things that really matter to her, and affect her valuation of life itself.

1) Nora in her depression represents an extreme case of a reality we all face--the reality of dissatifaction. Everyone holds regrets for poor decisions made in their life or for opportunites that they've squandered. Certainly, there are things that I wish I could do better; and had I been serious about cultivating said skills from before I would already be equip right now. At some point--at many points perhaps--I chose to spend my time differently, and here where are. I've wished I was better at reading non-fiction. I've wished I was a more successful track runner. I've wished I was more committed to my poetry. The list goes on. Each of these realities is just that, though: a different reality. Maybe the Harith that falls in love with non-fiction books as a child never discovers poetry. Maybe the successful track athlete never goes to college and meets some of my best friends. Maybe the more committed poet falls out of love with words before he's discovered his message for the world. There is so much that is inherent to our current realities that we would not dare trade. It is only our ignorance that these precious things are at stake that keeps us wishing for a different world and has us ill-content with our present. Another profound truth about regret is that it derives from our perceptions. We can construct imagined worlds in our minds where certain decisions have been the sole factor preventing us from the realization of a life-long dream, when really the dream was never meant to be regardless. As the author succintly puts it.

'''Sometimes regrets aren’t based on fact at all. Sometimes regrets are just . . .’ She searched for the appropriate term and found it. ‘A load of bull****.’ '''

The consensus here is that regrets are real. We all have them. And they are often oversized. Regrets are a thing to be let go. We reconcile them however we know how, but regardless they must be let go.

2) '''And when she thought of her root life, the fundamental problem with it, the thing that had left her vulnerable, really, was the absence of love.'''

Love is so central to our existence. In the book, love or a lack thereof is what drives Nora to suicide. Similar to Nora, I think many of us feel a dirth that overshadows the reality. What I mean by that is: we are on the recieving end of more love than we believe, only we do not percieve it and thus cannot accept it. As we consider how we percieve life and the love around us, we must simultaneously consider how we offer because every miscommunication invovles at least two parties.

If we love someone or something let us let that be known(without being stupid tho), and if we don't feel loved maybe we can listen a little closer because we are most certaintly worthy of love as we are.

- ‘So, you see? '''Sometimes regrets aren’t based on fact at all. Sometimes regrets are just . . .’ She searched for the appropriate term and found it. ‘A load of bullshit.’ '''
- She had shrunk for him, but he still hadn’t found the space he needed. No more.
- ‘The only way to learn is to live.’ ‘Yes. So you keep saying.’
- ‘It’s an easy game to play,’ she told Nora. ‘But a hard one to master. Every move you make opens a whole new world of possibility.’ (Commentary on chess and life as well)
- And when she thought of her root life, the fundamental problem with it, the thing that had left her vulnerable, really, was the absence of love. Even her brother hadn’t wanted her in that life. There had been no one, once Volts had died. She had loved no one, and no one had loved her back. She had been empty, her life had been empty, walking around, faking some kind of human normality like a sentient mannequin of despair. Just the bare bones of getting through.
- It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.
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