I watched ‘The Fault in our Stars’ again two days ago, and this time around I managed to continue where I left it many many months ago and finally got to watch it until the end.
It was a tear-jerking film alright, but there is one scene which stuck in my mind.
[Hazel takes Gus to Funky Bones for a picnic in his wheelchair, they sit on a picnic blanket and Hazel opens up a bottle of champagne as Gus sits quietly looking sad]
Hazel: What are you thinking about?
Gus: Oblivion. I know it’s…it’s kid’s stuff or whatever, but…I always thought I would be a hero. I always thought I’d have a grand story to tell, you know? Something they’d publish in all the papers, and…I mean, I was supposed to be special.
Hazel: You are special, Augustus.
Gus: Yeah, I know. But you know what I mean.
Hazel: I do know what you mean, I just don’t agree with you. You know this obsession you have with being remembered?
Gus: Don’t get mad.
Hazel: I am mad. I’m mad because I think you’re special, and is that not enough? You think that the only way to lead a meaningful life is for everyone to remember you, for everyone to love you. Guess what, Gus. This is your life, okay? This is all you get. You get me, and you get your family, and you get this world, and that’s it. And if that’s not enough for you, then I’m sorry, but it’s not nothing. Because I love you, and I’m gonna remember you.
Gus: I’m sorry. You’re right.
Hazel: I just wish you’d be happy with that.
The obsession with being remembered. The belief that oneself is supposed to be special, to be a hero, to have a grand story to tell.
I am not ashamed to tell you that it strikes a chord – it resonates with me. I have come (nearly) to be at peace with the differences between things I wish I could do and achieve and things I currently have in hand – but it was a long mental journey to arrive at this point.
Einstein once said, in Albany, New York in 1936:
Desire for approval and recognition is a healthy motive, but the desire to be acknowledged as better, stronger, or more intelligent than a fellow being or fellow scholar easily leads to an excessively egoistic psychological adjustment, which may become injurious for the individual and for the community.