Monday, February 4, 2013

Losing Julia, by Jonathan Hull

One of my dad's favorite movies is the mid-2000s Garden State so revered for its indie-rock soundtrack. My favorite part of the movie is that everyone I know takes something different from it. For my dad, the film is about a father and son reconnecting after their strained past. For others I've asked, it's about developing a friendship, discovering that happiness is more important than a career, and finding true love in unexpected places and times. For me, it's about a man becoming himself.

The beauty of our disparity is that each of us is right.

Like any thorough story, Losing Julia is about many things. A moving novel leaves part of itself in you when you finish it, and I can only speak to what I walked away with. Which is:

Live life.

Yeah, yeah, it's not new. Even Latin speakers had something to say about seizing the day, and they be old school. But old folks keep trying to tell us young farts that our youth is wasted on us, that we don't know what's important yet, and if we did we would just live for what's important rather than wasting away our time. That's what old-man Patrick keeps on about throughout the book, anyway. (Don't worry. He learns to go for the gold.)

Those old folks don't give us snappers of whippers enough credit, though: we know exactly what's important. We just have to wager a whole lot of life on our decisions, because if all goes to plan, we still have forty or sixty or eighty years to carry around with us. The trick is not figuring out what's important, so much as going for happiness now instead of mortgaging it for later.

I've never liked the motto "live like there's no tomorrow," because quite frankly I couldn't condense into every day all the big things I'd want to do on my last day on earth. Too many small things deserve to be spread out and absorbed and pondered and enjoyed. But I suppose I'm echoing the sentiment of the mantra. Go for happiness. Be who you are. Love who you love, and make sure they know it.

That way, when you're old, you won't bore all the young'uns with your drivel about the mistakes you made. You'll have them begging you for stories. And instead of putting up with whatever message you want to instill, those kids can carry away from your tales precisely what they need.

(Mad props and many thanks to my sister Kara, who gave me this book for my birthday after experiencing what it is to hunt down an out-of-print book. It now appears that a trade paperback version is available on Amazon, but who knows how long that will last.)

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