First of all, my suggestion is for you to find a copy of The Fault in Our Stars and read it. I honestly was a little, skeptical (if you can say that), at first. I read reviews that said it would make you cry and make you think. And they were right. So my advice is to read it. Well, read this first, then go and read it.
I took a few deep breaths and went back to the page. “I can’t talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.
-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
This particular line, delivered by Hazel Grace Lancaster in a eulogy for Augustus Waters, from The Fault in Our Stars really took me. It caught me and, honestly, I cried.
There have been times when I’m doing something and time just stops. It seems to be suspended in a state of infinite existence. I understand those moments. It seems as if everything around just stops. No one else exists, it’s just you and those around you. Perhaps you’re even alone, it just causes you to stop and breathe.
You stop, and in that moment, everything is perfect. Time stops and the perfection is beautiful. The time within that moment is a suspension in space, a moment that contains an infinitude of infinities. It’s that moment when you lose track of time, you never even notice it.
I have had very few such moments, and I can remember one this past summer. I was with someone that I loved and really, that moment, I would have preferred to be there the entirety of my life. I mean in that moment, they were my entire world. And honestly, they didn’t consider themselves special. They were very special to me. This book just made me wish for that true love. That person whom I can just look at them and feel their love. That person with whom just their presence causes me to feel at peace.
You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you.
-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
That quote, it’s something that many people need to be told, including myself. We always assume that we have to be known by thousands of other people to be special. We all have to be the Marilyn Monroe, the Nelson Mandela, the Justin Bieber, the Barack Obama in order to be special. We have to be aware that we are each special to someone.
There is always one person in your life who will always consider you special. No matter what happens to you. No matter what you do. And to them, you mean something; you might even mean the world. Never let yourself go for too long not remembering that. And be sure to make friends and relationships with those who see your worth.
Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.
People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do not harm.
The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things’ the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn’t actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn’t get smallpox.
-Letter to Van Houten from Augustus Waters, John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Many people, nearly all of them, are obsessed with leaving their mark. But often times, as Augustus writes, all we do is cause damage. When we think we’re helping we unintentionally cause damage.
Have you ever just watched someone? (Not in a creepy way of course, that would be really disturbing.) But when you watch someone, you get to see what they enjoy to do. You get to see them at peace and happy. And if you love them, well, when you see them for who they are, you will fall in love with them more. Seeing them at their happiest and most vulnerable state, it will bring you a happiness that you can’t even explain.
It is so much greater to be loved deeply, rather than widely. That is not to say that it is wrong to be loved widely. But being loved deeply is much greater. For being loved is one of the most precious things you can experience; to know that someone else cares for you even more than they do themselves. If there is one way to leave a lesser scar and greater legacy, it is through loving.