The Midnight libraryBy Matt Haig

About the book

The author has written a light hearted book, intended to communicate a deeper meaning. The midnight library is a place “in between” life and death. It is the library that one goes to when they are about to die. This library contains innumerable books on all the lives we could be leading based on the varied choices we make in life. You have as many lives, as you have possibilities. And they all exist in the midnight library.

Who is it for

People who believe in spirituality, a parallel universe.

Key takeaways

  1. Every life contains many millions of decisions. Some big, some small. But every time one decision is taken over another, the outcomes differ. An irreversible variation occurs, which in turn leads to further variations.
  2. Tissues are like lives. There are always more. Doing one thing differently is often the same as doing everything differently. Actions can’t be reversed within a lifetime, however much we try.
  3. Regrets ignore chronology. They float around. They are continuing, background regrets. Some regrets a little fainter than others. Some are not based on facts at all. One regret may shift from practically invisible to bold and back again, as if it is flashing on and off, right there as she looked at.
  4. “Want” is an interesting word. It means “lack”. Sometimes if we fill that “lack” with something else, the original “want” disappears entirely. One needs to gauge if we have a lack problem rather than a want problem.
  5. Sometimes the only way to “learn” is to “live”.
  6. Never underestimate the big importance of small things.
  7. Life is strange. How we live it all at once. In a straight line. But really that’s not the whole picture. Because life isn’t simply made of the things we do but the things we don’t do too. And every moment of our life is a kind of journey.
  8. Life is acres of disappointment and monotony and hurts and rivalries but with flashes of wonder and beauty.
  9. Every second of every day we are entering a new universe. And we spend so much time wishing our lives were different, comparing ourselves to other people and to be other versions of ourselves, when really most lives contain degrees of good and degrees of bad.
  10. There are patterns to life. Times of sadness or tragedy or failure or fear are byproducts of simply living. It would have made things a lot easier, if we understood there was no way of living that can immunize us against sadness. And that sadness is intrinsically part of the fabric of happiness. You can’t have one without the other. Of course they come in different degrees and quantities. But there is no life where you can be in the state of sheer happiness forever. And imagining there is, just breeds more unhappiness in the life you are in.
  11. Life compared to a game of chess astutely: The game is never over until it is over. It is not over if there is a single pawn still on the board. If one side is down to a pawn and a king, and the other side has every player, there is still a game. And even if you were a pawn (maybe we all are), then you should remember that a pawn is the most magical piece of all. It might look small and ordinary but it is not. Because upon is never just a pawn. A pawn is a “queen in waiting”. All you need to do is find a way to keep moving forward. One square after another. And you can get to the other side and unlock all kinds of power. At the beginning of a game of chess there are no variations. It is only one way to set up the board. There are 9 million variations, after the first six moves. And after eight moves, they are 288 billion different positions. And those possibilities keep growing. There are more possible ways to play a game of chess than the amount of atoms in the observable universe. And there is no right way to play. In chess as in life, possibility is the basis of everything.
  12. It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we had developed other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we had worked harder, loved better, handled the finances more astutely, been more popular. It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of other people and to wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic versions of you, they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret and keep regretting, ad infinitum, until time runs out. But it is not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It is the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy. We can’t tell if any of those other versions would have been better or worse. Of course we cannot visit every place or meet every person or do every job, yet most of what we’d feel in any life is still available. We don’t have to play every game to know what winning feels like. We don’t have to hear every piece of music in the world to understand music. We don’t have to have tried every variety of grapes from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies. We just have to close our eyes and savour the taste of the drink in front of us and listen to the song as it plays.
  13. We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other life and have access to the same emotional spectrum. We only need to be one person. We only need to feel one existence. We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already in finite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility.
  14. The prison wasn’t the place but the perspective.

Published by oberoimehak

Full time mother and overworked lawyer who likes to spend the 25th hour mulling over life, spirituality, parenthood, relationships and other creative pursuits that crack its way through her over enthusiastic brain. Follow me if feminism, women empowerment, spirituality or just the basic dogmas imposed by the society; intrigue you.

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