Promises and Unholdable Things
By Karen Ballum on March 29, 2012
Sometimes in life, and love, we don't always know what we are getting into when we start something. That's frequently been true in my life and it was true for the characters in John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. A support group led to friendship and love for the characters, but it wasn't all that they thought it would be -- the good things also came with the unholdable things.
"She said she couldn't handle it," he told me. "I'm about to lose my eyesight and she can't handle it."
I was thinking about the word handle, and all the unholdable things that get handled. P. 60
Life and love can be tricky to handle for most of us. Goodness knows when I was a teenager I thought I knew it all. Well.... maybe not all but I thought I knew I heck of a lot. I wasn't as smart at Hazel, Augustus and Isaac but I held my own fairly well. I got life right more than I got it wrong. I wish I could say the same about love but I cannot. I made promises I didn't really understand and inevitably broke them. Isaac would have been rather disappointed in me. Perhaps it would have been different if I had dated an Isaac rather than the people I did date back then.
"Sometimes people don't understand the promises they make when they make them," I said.
Isaac shot me a look. "Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. Don't you believe in true love?"
I didn't answer. I didn't have an answer. But I thought that if true love did exist, that was a pretty good definition of it. Pp. 60-61
I can't say that I regret making or breaking the promises I made when I was a teenager and thought myself in love. The promises I made were important to me then and helped me become who I am today. I also learned that while you may keep a promise, it doesn't mean that the other person will. As important as promises are, the person you make the promise to has to be worthy of them. They need to be be able to make and keep the same promises to you. Believe me when I say that I spent a lot of time exchanging promises with boys who, unlike Augustus and Isaac, were not worthy of them.
My promises were dreams and hopes. They were the wishes of one person for two people. As Augustus very sagely tells us in The Fault in Our Stars, "The world is not a wish-granting factory." Just because we wish for something does not mean that our wish will, or should be, granted. But those wishes, dreams and promises are important whether or not they see fruition -- they help us handle the unholdable things.
Have you made a wish or a promise that's helped you handle an unholdable thing?
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