Thank You, Matt Haig!

Enter Haig’s Midnight Library: A world where you get to make different choices that affect the trajectory of your life.

There is nothing like living on the brink of World War III on the heels of a pandemic to cause one to wax reflective, if not, downright depressed. Take your pick of observations: the murder of George Floyd, the deaths of civilians, police officers, and a veteran both at and due to the January 6, 2021 capitol riots; as of the writing of this post, 115 children have died as a direct result of the Russia-Ukraine War. 

Since March 2020, whether we were masking up or hoping that our Amazon order didn’t get taken by porch pirates; whether we were worried we would never see Lysol Disinfectant wipes ever again or contact tracing with dread after learning a friend at a recent dinner party tested positive for Omicron, life on Earth has often felt like an apocalyptic Twilight Zone episode we can’t Rod Serling our way out of.

Enter the ingenious writer: Matt Haig and his new book, The Midnight Library. This is the kind of book that reminds us: even the most ordinary of lives has the ability to experience an extraordinary life. It’s the butterfly effect on steroids. No spoilers here, but Haig’s protagonist, painfully depressed in a way humanity can empathize with now, discovers the profound life changes brought about by the most minute of alterations. 

Again, no spoilers but Haig’s writing is food for the soul, nourishing our hearts with the poignant reminder that what we do matters. Like us, the protagonist and her family are fallible and contend with their own Achilles heels. Like life, this story pulls every emotion from our funny bone to our heartstrings. Haig is both therapist and entertainer with his words; through the insights of the main character, we understand ourselves more.

One of the quotes in Haig’s book is from the philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre:

“Life begins on the other side of despair.”

The Midnight Library has the potential to resuscitate the heart of the heartbroken. It is as complex as it is simple, like humanity itself. 

Mr. Haig, thank you for the invaluable reminder that regardless of what is occurring externally in our topsy-turvy world, each of us has the power to choose a different thought, word, or action; by extension, each of us has the power to create and experience delicious possibility. 

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/russiaukraine-war-115-children-killed-140-injured-so-far-says-report-101647775243391.html

Source : https://www.americanscientist.org/article/understanding-the-butterfly-effect

Source : https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Library-Novel-Matt-Haig/dp/0525559477/ref=sr_1_1?crid=ZLREKKEQC2OR&keywords=the+midnight+library&qid=1648005044&sprefix=the+midnight+library%2Caps%2C130&sr=8-1

It’s Not Personal

      When we go within for messages instead of outward, we are serving ourselves the best emotional nutrition.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to a jewel of a book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. According to Toltec wisdom, there are literally four keys or agreements that, once practiced, offer us a world of inner peace and freedom:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Ruiz writes that the cause of most human suffering comes from not following the above four agreements. And boy, is Ruiz right! This simple yet deeply insightful book has been my go-to for years. All four agreements work together and affect each other. 

As our world continues to grow more virtual each day, it’s become clear to me that we need a reminder in not taking anything personally. While we are each the center of our individual worlds, we are not the center to others. As Ruiz states so eloquently:

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.”

Words are a food for the soul. They possess the power to fuel or render us famished. But if we aren’t mindful, the words others serve us can make us sick. When we don’t take their words personally, we can continue to feed ourselves a diet that nourishes.

You can’t go onto social media now without reading someone’s vitriol regarding everything from a person’s weight to their political stance. If heeded, insulting words carry nutritional poison. But if you grow still, you will soon become aware that someone who is not happy with himself/herself serves those negative words. The poison they dish out is coming from within. You have the choice, the free will to not accept their toxic serving. Happy people don’t serve unhappiness—they literally don’t have it in them.

Actions that are cruel or toxic aren’t personal either. Ruiz notes this even in the extreme: “Even if someone got a gun and shot you in the head, it was nothing personal.” Again, negative behavior of any kind is a reflection of whatever is going on in another’s world and not about you.

This week alone, I have found myself grateful for Ruiz’s reminder that nothing is personal:

  • My friend calling me sleep-deprived after a 12-hour shift, articulating that I just don’t understand what she is going through.
  • My parents not calling on my son’s birthday, only to find out that they got the date mixed up.
  • Five people showing up to a virtual pre-launch book event of The Friendship Diet (after inviting over 100 folks) 

           Not taking anything personally also applies to compliments. While it feels good, we need to remember that, “If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful. It is not necessary to believe other people who tell you that you are wonderful.”

           When we go within for messages instead of outward, we are serving ourselves the best emotional nutrition. Looking outward for praise is a dish that will always leave one hungry for more; looking outward for guidance on who you are is the culinary equivalent of “too many cooks in the kitchen”: at best you end up with a hodge-podge of inedible messages and at worst, you experience emotionally painful heartburn.

            Nothing is personal. As Ruiz reminds us, when we know that nothing is personal “You can choose to follow your heart always. Then you can be in the middle of hell and still experience inner peace and happiness.”