Good solitude in “The Midnight Library”

In Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, Nora Seed overdoses and finds herself in an in-between place where it is always midnight. She is surrounded by endless stacks of books. Her favorite librarian from childhood tells her to pick one from the shelves. Each one contains a different life based on her making a different decision. The options appear endless.

There is so much to love about this book and many people love it. It’s a New York Times bestseller.

All of us wonder, at some point, what our lives would have been like if we’d made a different choice – married another person, broke an engagement, took one job instead of the other, moved, stayed. Nora gets to try going down those alternate paths. As she does this, she not only learns what could have been, she learns about her own nature.

Nora Seed on solitude

This is one of my favorite Nora observations:

She had thought, in her nocturnal and suicidal hours, that solitude was the problem. But that was because it hadn’t been true solitude. The lonely mind in the busy city yearns for connection because it thinks human-to-human connection is the point of everything. But amid pure nature (or the ‘tonic of wildness’ as Thoreau called it) solitude took on a different character. It became in itself a kind of connection. A connection between herself and the world. And between her and herself.

from The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

Meditation: under your tree

Nature as we know is a calming remedy for the fast paced lives we live, even during pandemic times, maybe especially during pandemic times. I know that not all of us can step out into nature and enjoy its peace easily.

You can, however, sit quietly and imagine yourself in nature. Pick a favorite tree (whether it still exists of not) and imagine sitting or lying beneath it. Look up into its branches to see the dappled sunlight, the changing color of the leaves. Feel the breeze. Bask in the stillness. Feel the connection between yourself and the world, between you and yourself.

Writing Prompt: write a different book

Think back on a decision you made; it can be one of life’s big choices or something smaller—living one floor up in the apartment building.

Write in third person and start your story at that threshold. This is often where fiction begins. What if? Keep in mind that this different decision could have made life better or worse. You decide.

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