my crazy, unprecedented life

Confession time: yesterday I read in my car while driving.

Yes, I was reading a book while driving — well, technically at red lights, and possibly a few moments after the light turned green again, but whatever. [Sorry, mom].

Technically, there are no laws against it, and I live on the edge, so….

I also read an entire book in about five hours total; coming from the slowest reader on the planet, that’s not bad.

And I also saw a movie by myself last night. This is the week of big things for me, guys.

Exactly eight pages before the big twist is revealed, I already knew exactly what would happen. I predicted the entire second half of the book.

You know what I’m talking about if you’ve read it.

If not, pick up The Fault in Our Stars and read it. Your eyes need the moisture, so do it for your health if nothing else.

[I made that up; I know nothing about eye health. It just sounded medically correct, so I wrote it.]

Oh, and don’t worry about “joining the bandwagon”; this is going to be a really deep thought, but oddly enough, sometimes when books become really popular it’s because they’re actually good books. So drop that hipster life for a little bit and read what’s ‘in’ right now!

And yes, okay, fine; I admit it. I fell in love with Augustus Waters, like the other millions of people who have read this book.

I fell in love with the way he spoke and the presence I felt from him just by reading every page. In my playwriting class, I was taught to search for the presence of a character even when they weren’t talking, and Augustus Waters took the gold for that. He actually listened to other people, responded in interesting and often unexpected ways, and did not compromise his incredibly unique personality to please anyone else, even the girl he loved. He searched for her and met her where she was at, and she did the same.

And he used her first and middle name. Swoon. I have this thing about people’s names, and the way/amount that they are used in daily conversation. I just love it.

I don’t want to get into too detailed a description of the book because this isn’t meant to be a book report, but truly: I haven’t had a novel shake me up as much as this one did in quite some time. And I haven’t enjoyed a film adaptation as much as I liked this one in quite some time.

John Green has this funny way of using words in ways that make me think, “Oh, I totally could have written something beautiful like that,” and then I try and I’m like “Oh. John Green is really good at writing and this is harder than I thought.”

One line really struck me hard when I read it,

“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”

Gus says it to Hazel Grace; I forgot the scenario and the details of the scene, because I just became so wrapped up in this thought of not focusing on how incredible one can become and in turn, becoming incredible to those who are truly observing.

You cannot make yourself utterly unprecedented automatically because you say you want to become utterly unprecedented. You just are, because you fill yourself up with things to do and people to meet and places to take in and moments to capture. You are not worried what anyone thinks or says about who you are, because you are caught up in the life that you’ve been given, and you’ve started to count the ways you can increase the earth’s capacity for goodness and light.

Augustus Waters is an incredibly intelligent seventeen-year-old; I do not know very many young men who are as intellectually advanced and analytical as he is — sorry boys (Mr. Green, why do you tease us girls so with such an amazing character?). And I think it took this book and this fictional kid that I was starting to love and his unique way of using language to get me to fully take in this idea. For me, this sentence — “You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are” — is a way of saying “You, too, can be unprecedented if you would only stop worrying about trying to become so different, so unknown, so unique. It’s a natural thing if you would stop being busy with the wrong things and start being busy with the matters that matter most. When you do that, when you start  actually living, when you forget the frivolities and actually get up onto your feet and start walking forward, you start to live a life that has never been lived before you – dripping with unprecedence in every sense of the word (‘unprecedence’ is not even a real word; take that irony as you will).” And the point of living this kind of life is not to wear a shirt or a sign that says “Look at me! I’m unprecedented!” The point is not to make an idol of yourself for being unparalleled; the point is to humbly use what you’ve been given to create ripples of you-ness — letting others know that it’s okay for them to get busy being themselves because that’s exactly who they’re meant to be.

Unprecedented: never before known, having no parallel or equal. That’s not to say that your life will be better than others; it just means that it’s different than everybody else’s, as is everyone’s. And no, I don’t fully believe that weird paradox in this case, that everyone having a special and different life means nobody has a special and different life. I just refuse to believe that, because I put my faith and hope in a God who sent His son to live the most unprecedented life imaginable; He performs miracles on the daily, and will stop at nothing to captivate me in all His glory, as He does for every single one of us. It’s up to us whether we recognize those little miracles and blessings amidst the chaos and business-of-unnecessary-things that this world tries to overwhelm us with. And more often than not, we find those blessings in different ways than our neighbors and friends; so together, we can create a picture filled with a million different colored words, actions, blessings, miracles — unprecedented-ness (also not a word but y’know; that’s okay).

So, here’s to my unprecedented life — a life that is not focused on becoming unprecedented, but hopefully becomes it in the process of simply living out my years. Here’s to writing, speaking, singing, being in public without fear of judgment; here’s to adventures in the most unlikely of ways. Here’s to reaching out to people who intimidate me, scare me, make me nervous. Here’s to focusing on the things I love, and not being afraid to show a little craziness for those things, proving I’m alive with passion. Here’s to showing shades of kindness that have been clouded over in this world. Here’s to gaining knowledge and wisdom through experience and things that I care about. Here’s to just going forth and living and finding Jesus on the mountains, in the chasms, in the shadows, in the sunlight; in other people’s eyes, in the words I read; in the arguments and tension, in the tenderness and the love, and – of course – right in the middle ground of being okay.

This week was a busy one, and I would be kidding myself if I said I wasn’t tired, tired, tired — yep, three times. But my heart is overflowing and my body is sore in the best possible way, so I have nothing to complain about. This week was filled with beautiful faces, beautiful and broken hearts, healthy tears, reading on the elliptical (my favorite past-time), homemade donuts, late nights of words, catching up with old friends, learning to skateboard, handing brand-new laptops to  kids with gorgeous hearts who are about to head off to college, the best coffee, Jesus Jesus Jesus and all He is, a few precious moments of vulnerability with my coworkers, conversations going way over my head, and feeling like I matter; I’m needed. I’m worth something. I’m not annoying. I’m loved. I’m missed. I’m interesting enough to talk to, to get to know. And guess what? In realizing this about myself, I realize it about somebody else even more: you. Yes, you reading this right now. You are all of these; all of the things I was realizing about myself, you are that and more. You are so worth it; you are so loved. You are so needed in this world, you are so interesting, and you are so beautiful.

Cheers to you. You are living an unprecedented life by just being you and doing what you do. And I saw you.

If you read that last sentence and instead of believing it to be true, you felt a tug at your heart for something more than worries and fears and anxiety and wishing for a different life than the one you have, then congratulations. You are on your way to finding your unprecedented life. Go forth, my friend. Go forth.

–Claire

P.S. Today’s thought: I used to think I only wanted to be the girl who composed stories every time she spoke, but now I want to be the girl who moves mountains with every step she takes.

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