It was my last year of high school, and the merciless March sun shone at an impossibly hot temperature. My English teacher's ramblings were near impossible to hear over the humming and grunting of the tiny, ancient air conditioner that didn't do its job well.
It's after lunch and we walked to the nearby bakery to indulge in cold rolls and coffee, just like we would on so many other occasions that year. We're restless and emotionally exhausted but still listen.
I lay there flat on the desk, tuned in to my English teacher's story about a book that once changed her life. 'It came to me during a time of loss,' she recalled probably more so to herself than her small audience. Indeed, she was a rambler but we listened. She understood us and let us lounge around the classroom like no other teacher would. Instead of the 'this isn't your lounge' spill, she garnered respect through her actions.
I started reading because of that teacher. And eventually I'd come across John Green just like any young adult would in the twenty-first century.
John Green's Looking For Alaska came to me at the right time in my life.
It certainly wasn't a pretty time. I was dealing with a great loss and one of my dear friends had began their tragic dance with the demons of Major Depression. But it was the right time.
In the novel, the main character Miles moves to a boarding college to 'Seek a Great Perhaps.' This concept of a Great Perhaps is carried throughout and has stuck with me since.
Image via Odyssey.
Everyone is seeking a Great Perhaps of their own. Perhaps you'll get married and settle down with children. Perhaps you'll land that job and start building yourself a career. Perhaps you'll one day fill your modern, waterfront house up with all those materialistic items that you've dreamt of.
Recently, I was recalling to a work colleague how excitement fades as we grow up. We stop believing the magic of Christmas and don't get as excited for the Royal Show or that silly festival. Being restless and over-excited is a silly, child-like concept that we stop caring for because we're too occupied.
We get so caught up thinking about what we want that we never really stop and look at what we have, or how much fun we're having in the moment. It's a behaviour we all develop sometime during our adolescence. Occupied with the what if, we never stop to look at how far we've come.
Driving to work once, I envied a sunset and thought about stopping to take a photo of it. Of course, I couldn't stop for a photo of the sun because I'd be late to work. The beauty of that moment had escaped me because I was occupied by my Great Perhaps.
I had a sonder thought later that night - that sunset was gone. Forever. Sure, there will be many more July sunsets over Adelaide but they'll never be exactly the same. The clouds will form differently and those shades of amber will never be the same. It was gone.
You’re probably laughing at me for writing about memories only a year old as if they were so long ago. But they feel so far gone. A handful of memories and that nostalgic, longing feeling is all I have left. Moments fade so quickly and is all we're left with are memories.
Somewhere out there, a four year old wants to stop and smell some lilacs. His mum pulls his hand and says 'come on,' because her bills - a side effect of her great perhaps - need paying. 'Why not?!,' that stubborn little kid will whine.
Why can't we stop and smell the roses every now and again? Why can't we be five minutes late to take silly Polaroid pictures of sunsets over the freeway? We all have dreams and aspirations. Your Great Perhaps - whatever it may be - should be a journey, not a chore.