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Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Perks of Being a Wallflower


I've been reading this book for the past week, going backwards and forwards and backwards again. In all, I've probably read through it at least twice. Still, I can't seem to get rid of the feeling that I need to study the words written here a little more. Definitely one to get for my own library.

Synopsis: A 15 year old boy is starting is first year of high school. Things have happened to him. Things will happen to him. Things are happening to him - which is funny, because the term "wallflower" means someone who is standing on the sidelines, not a participant but an observer. It's hard for me to see Charlie as "just as observer" when he obviously isn't. Taking place in the early 90s, he writes letters, which is how the book is formatted, to an unknown friend, describing his everyday life and thoughts. It's hilarious and sad at the same time. And always, it is uplifting.

Weird, huh? That the letters of a depressive can be uplifting?

This book, in combination with watching An Education and taking the meaning/purpose of life questionnaires on Penn State's Authentic Happiness Survey has gotten me thinking a lot. Perhaps a little too much. What is happiness? Why do people have to have a purpose to be happy? According to the AHS, I'm not particularly purpose-filled. What if your purpose is just to live out each day to the best of your ability? No, that doesn't necessarily fill me with ambition and hope and awe and energy. But that's my purpose. This is water. I'm questioning the definition of happiness here, and what "participating" is. Just because the fish's actions within the fish bowl are being watched closely, doesn't mean the watcher isn't doing "nothin'," as my tutees like to say.

Note: One cannot do "nothing." The act of "doing nothing" is the act of nonexistence - thus nothing can't be done or not done. It's acceptable in colloquial language, but not for written communication. I explain this to 10 year olds and they get it. But when I explain this to 50 year olds, they scoff and look at me like I'm crazy. Another reason why I like the philosophy of children.

In any case, awesome book. Apparently, it's considered to be the Catcher in the Rye of the millennial generation. I never really got into Catcher in the Rye. Maybe because I'm of the millennial generation.

1 comment:

Jim N Mandy McGuckin said...

I saw this movie today and while trying to get an understanding of it I came upon your page. It made me feel some things that I am struggling to process. I don't really know what to say but that happiness is fleeting. It comes and it goes like waves, lingers than its gone back from whence it came. This leads me to believe that there must be something deeper than happiness that can sustain us. I don't know and its possible i never will.