You can call this my love letter to Delirium by Lauren Oliver because Delirium changed my life. With Requiem releasing tomorrow, now is the time to share how this book helped me. I scratched the surface in my review of Delirium this time last year but I want to dissect the words and show you what they mean to me, show you how they changed the perspective of someone who constantly rejected love.
Lesson Number One – It’s hard to be patient.
Take it from someone who couldn’t even comprehend the word up until a few years ago. Lena counts down the days to her procedure like I used to count down the days until I “make it” which is hysterical considering how do you know? Then when you do, you don’t really have the time to realize you’ve made it until you’re right in the middle of it…or sometimes after it’s happened in which case, it’s just a memory then. It’s so strange how life works: You want something and you wait and wait and feel like it’s taking forever to come. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.
Today is not as bad as I think it is. Most cases it’s not even bad at all. Stupid, stupid-to be so careless with our time, to believe we had so much of it left. Not until recent years did I truly start to understand this and the importance of appreciating and loving the moment that I am in rather than starve for the moment that’s coming. After all, we don’t know how much time we have with what’s coming and there’s no going back. We all know how to play with the birthday gift we ask to get but do we all know how to best use the time we have while we wait for it to come?
Lesson Number Two – Hearts are fragile things. That’s why you have to be so careful.
In Delirium, I discovered what the root of my dismissal of love really is. It’s about fear: fear of pain, fear of hurt, fear, fear, fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of asking too much. Fear of failure. Fear of failing at love. In love. I’m the girl who was afraid of herself. But you can’t go on being so scared all the time. Because life goes on whether you’re ready or not. Do it afraid. I do everything else afraid. Love is no different. Just remember, He who leaps for the sky may fall, it’s true. But he may also fly. I also discovered what a life without love really is and that’s when I realized I’ve been afraid of the wrong thing all along. Which brings us to…
Lesson Number Three – “You know you can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes, right?” / LIBERTY IN ACCEPTANCE
Lauren Oliver had me from page one. Delirium takes place in a world where love is literally a disease and everyone eighteen and over must get the cure. What attracted me to this story was that I essentially treated love as a disease all my life. I’ve never had dreams of the white house with the red door, white picket fence, dog, one boy, one girl, and a husband. Take out the husband and kids, add some more pets and that would be more accurate.
I believe in love but I didn’t see an example of love where the woman had a successful career, she could balance it all well, and her other half was not intimidated by her. Because I didn’t have an example, I thought I had to choose. So I chose to focus on my career. Though it wasn’t so much a choice I made one day, moreso me naturally going down a path. I’ve always been career driven. Love was always a distraction. Love was always a disease. It meant the killing of my dreams.
Only I didn’t realize until reading this book that having what I think I want isn’t nearly as gratifying as having what I imagine and more without love. Love will turn the whole world into something greater than itself. Yes, I’m an introvert. Yes, I don’t mind going to the movies by myself. But every time I fall, I can’t always catch myself. Where then is the stability? Love carries you through. If love is at my door, there’s an extra seat. Plus, I’m pretty sure at this point it’s going to come in anyway. You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. And I’m okay with that. Now.
Lesson Number Four – …the hand you’ve been holding your whole life suddenly disappears and leaves you free to move in any direction you want.
When you’re in love, after the engagement and wedding usually comes children. At least that’s what the majority expects. I am not in the majority. But if I can get over the fear of failing at love, maybe having a kid isn’t so terrifying, yeah? That’s the funny thing. Love: It will kill you and save you, both. There is no guidebook to parenting and that scares the crap out of me. I like rules because then I know how to break them. With no rules, there are ZERO boundaries to work with and with no boundaries, no walls to run into, hence actually making a million walls.
So I don’t know what to trust and I don’t want to make a mistake. But everyone you trust, everyone you think you can count on, will eventually disappoint you. We’re all human, we all fall short, we all make mistakes so, get over it, right? “So it’s risky. You know what? I don’t care.” I need to attack parenting like I attack my career goals. It’s risky but it’s worth it. There’s a life that’s destined for us but it’s up to us to accept it. It’s up to us to get there. Time waits for no man, but progress waits for man to enact it. We live for freedom and then stay put. Really? Really. Enough of that. Do it afraid. This brings us back to fear of failing at love. It’s like all their anxiety and self-consciousness has been removed along with the disease. The doubt doesn’t go away, in fact there might be more. But if love eases that doubt, I want it.
Lesson Number Five – Control. It’s all about control.
Delirium affected my core being and with that it made me fall in love with reading and writing all over again. This book got me out of a reading slump that went on for a couple of years and brought me back to paper with my pen in a way I haven’t seen since my high school days. This book challenged me in every single way possible and impossible as a human being and as a writer. Every word cut deep. In Delirium, the “Invalids” are the people who didn’t get the cure and are now living in the Wilds. Just take a moment to think about the words “love,” “valid,” and “invalid,” and “wild.”
Then there are the side effects. Another side effect of the cure. People often change their habits afterward, lose interest in their former hobbies and things that had given them pleasure. Oliver turns the side effects of love upside down and brings not only this world that she’s created to life but our souls to a magnifying glass. It’s like a challenge for you to see what really matters in your life.
Delirium is a wake up call that we all need. I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since the first time I read it and I never will. I hope she knows how powerful of a book she’s written here. When people talk about books that saved them, I talk about Delirium. It brought me back to life and showed me the life I can have if only… and I cannot thank Lauren Oliver enough for every single word. I can’t thank her enough. But this is my attempt to. So thank you. Thank you.
Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver are available now. Own Requiem March 5, 2013.
Note: I’m positive she doesn’t know this but I bought Delirium after reading Lori’s review over at Pure Imagination. Thanks Lori.