“The Opposite of Loneliness” is a collection of short stories and essays by Marina Keegan. The book was published due to the author’s untimely death. She passed away in a car accident only five days after her college graduation. She was 22.
We can debate on whether Keegan’s work would have been published if she were alive or if her potential would have been met and made her a famous writer. This is what we have, a small collection of her written works put together by her loved ones and the reality that she can’t defend herself from her critics.
The book comes with the tragedy of her author attach to it. It can guide our reading on how we judge this work. At least, it steered my own experience. It reminded me of the fragility and finite bounds that encompass our lives. Our potential could be unlocked at any moment, in a month, a year, a decade, or not at all. Maybe we’ll never live up to it. It can slip away from our hands without notice by putting things off, telling ourselves that we have “all the time in the world”, that right now it’s not good for us, that we should grow up and stop dreaming.
I’m in my late, late (I’m just a few months away from thirty) twenties; Marina Keegan’s writing was a window to my old-self. My college self, the idealistic and naïve girl I used to be. I miss her. She thought she could change and/or save the world and that everything will fall into place. Even if our younger selves were kind of impractical believers, they got some things right thanks to their naïveté. Live for today with the presumptuous expectation that you’ll wake up tomorrow. When the road gets rocky, remember you’re not doomed to your circumstances. Getting out will be the hardest part but you have a past self that is rooting for you.
We constantly forget who we were and replace it with conventions of our reality until we aren’t able to recognize our life anymore. This book doesn’t remind us what it’s like to be young but that we were young once. Having dreams is not exclusive to youth and believing in a better something (e.g. world, humanity, government, etc.) doesn’t have to clash with the practicalities of our everyday life.
When we were in college we saw the world as ours for the taking. With time you realize that it’s not about taking but giving. Marina Keegan and her loved ones gave this book to the world, this is her “card to the universe.” This book has crossed language and cultural boundaries to inspire others. You’ll finish it with the hefty question: “What am I leaving behind?” This is your life and it’s so damn short. Start answering that question now.