If you read (or at least watched) One Day, you know exactly why July 15 is a special date.
July 15, 1988 is the day where the two main characters of the book, Emma and Dexter, first meet after their graduation.
David Nicholls, author of One Day, takes us along their journey –from their glory days as early twenties living in London, from 1988 to the next 20 years. We read on how they spend their July 15th together, and sometimes they spend it apart. We were taken through their ups and downs, how life happened for Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew.
I have changed my mobile phone several times. But, since I read the book in 2010, I never forget to put that special date on my calendar. From 1988 and every year that follows, we’ve grown to know them very well. We see them slightly changed to become better human beings – although along the way, at times did not successfully become the people they expected to be. On that day, I also asked myself with the same question Emma asked to herself: “Am I really making a difference? … Where do I want to be right now?”
We always love to look at the journey of someone, or in this case –two people, who also have the same worries and expectations in life like us. We feel that we are not alone when we read how Emma frequently looked down upon herself and unconfident to unleash her potentials. We feel this mutual excitement with Dexter as someone who seemed to enjoy his life to the fullest. But we also share his sadness as he feels his future did not turn out as good as he expected: “He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.”
One Day is one of the many books that remind us the importance of paying more attention to things, because just like what is printed on the back of the book, “You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”
So, for this July 15, aside to reposting a chain of my favorite quotes from the book and share it on my countless social media accounts, I will skim the book once again. I tried to sum up 10 lessons that I’ve learned (and hopefully always remember these lessons) from Emma and Dexter.
1. Personal handwritten letters are symbols of caring towards the recipients. I knew that in 1988, communication through smartphones or even emails are unthought-of. That’s why Emma and Dexter tried to keep in touch through handwritten letters. But, when we write our own letters for someone we care about, there is a certain energy that drives our hand to pour our heart out and write the truest things we know.
2. “’Just Kidding’ is exactly what people write when they meant every word.” I can’t think of a situation where “just kidding” turned out to be a real joke. People really love to sugarcoat the meanest things that come out from their mouth, and they add ‘just kidding’ because they think it sounds far more merciful.
3. When you write a very personal, beautifully handwritten letter, you better send it right away. Don’t wait. Or in this case, if you do have something true to say, you better say it right away. Because you might never have a chance to say it anymore.
4. If a lot of people believe in you, it means that you have potential. It’s not like everyone’s making a conspiracy, as if “people secretly ganging up to be nice about you.” It means you do have something special.
5. You’re not a consolation prize. Don’t do things for people who think you are “option number 20”. You are worth far more.
6. At the age of 24, yes, we all could feel a little bit lost. After graduation, we think that anything’s possible. We feel this endless energy to do something, to make a change. But at the age of 24, we are in the intersection of what we want to do and what we end up doing. It is alright, because “we’re all meant to be like that at twenty-four.”
7. We are probably “scared of being happy” because it is easier and we can “make a joke out of it.” Dexter was in India and end up writing the truest, unexpectedly beautiful letter that he (spoiler alert) failed to send. If only Emma had read this letter, he would’ve probably successfully made Emma gain the confidence she had lost after graduation.
8. It is possible to feel outgrown from your best friends. Things happen in our lives, and people change. But if the bond is real and deep, no matter how long it takes, true best friends always come together in the end.
9. “Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately fully and well. Experience new things.” We have certain expectations on how life should turn out, and mostly we forget that people might not expect us to do such things. We tend to focus on being the best, but we forget about the friends and family that care for us, for example. Pick your own battlefield, and get on with it. Don’t think about “have we successfully projected our expected version of us?”, because it is a never ending story.
10. There is a day in our lives where everything we hoped for so long, finally starts. Try to take a look back to the past, and remember “a day that you will always remember for the rest of your life?” Remember how that day made you who you are now. If you haven’t found that one day, don’t worry. You will have it in the future.