Caitlin Ludke / Essay

The Great Perhaps

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I’ve always been really fascinated with books. When I was little my parents would read me Curious George every night before bed, and I would always request the same story over and over, specifically the story of when George swallows a puzzle piece and has to go to the hospital. I think that was when I got hooked. Even though I can’t remember the exact moment I realized books were my escape.

There is something magical about reading a book and connecting with it. I’m not going to write a piece advocating for why people should still read books because that’s a personal preference and I don’t really care if you read or not. What I care more about are the words and the messages the authors provide for us. Think back to a book that made you completely amazed and speechless. In that one moment those words were so clear and meaningful that they somehow made an impact on your life. It’s sort of wonderful the way words can create such a strong message–how two simple words can relate to your life.

It only took one small phrase written by John Green in his novel Looking for Alaska. I found these two words last year during my first semester at school; Great Perhaps. Two words that can mean a million different things but yet is a phrase that is so simple. To me, these words symbolize this greater thing that is out there in the world waiting for me to find. When I came to Champlain I realized quickly that things were very different here than from where I grew up. People were very opinionated and some of the stories I heard about people’s past times were only stories I had ever heard about in the news or in textbooks. It never occurred to me that I would meet someone that had struggled for eighteen years because of severe family issues or personal issues. I never thought I would meet someone so blatantly honest and open, but it turns out I did. I realized the Great Perhaps had affected my life in the first year of school. I did a lot of self-discovering, through my classes and talking to my newfound friends. I believe that one day I will find another Great Perhaps, which something magical or wonderful or even inspirational will happen upon me. Or maybe this magical Great Perhaps will find me. Either way, I have a gut feeling that this confusing yet wonderful sensation will recur when I am older.

Believing in this idea of a Great Perhaps means that there is something beautiful in some place that I will one day hopefully find. The Great Perhaps is the biggest enigma that I’ve ever thought about in my nineteen years on this planet. But to me, these words changed my way of thinking, and changed my perspective on life. I think it’s important to remember that there is something to look forward to in the future, even if you think in one moment that nothing good will come your way. Sometimes this world we live in can be cruel and harsh and very critical, and books are a vice to go somewhere else for a few hours. I know that reading isn’t for everyone, but if you can find one book that will speak to you, then I think it makes all the difference and can make life a little bit more meaningful.

I hope after reading this you will be empowered to go find your Great Perhaps, whether it be in a book or a scene from a movie. Whatever inspires you to give you hope for the future can become your Great Perhaps. My Great Perhaps may not be the same as yours, but as John Green wrote, “Thomas Edison’s last words were, ‘It’s very beautiful over there’. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”

 

 

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