Emily Giffin’s The One & Only

For her first novel with Random House, Emily Giffin’s The One & Only is, in some ways, quite a bit different from her other novels, revolving mainly around college football and the lives of those involved (directly or indirectly) in it. But, if you look beyond all of the sports discourse, you can see that, at its core, it is still a Giffin novel, just with love and relationships as a secondary focus instead of the main one.

The novel follows Shea Rigsby, a woman whose life completely revolves around football – something she has been passionate about since before she can remember. Her best friend, Lucy, is the daughter of famed college football coach Clive Carr, who not only is the head coach for Walker University – in the town of the same name that Shea grew up in – but also has been a role model and father figure to her due to her father’s absence. The Carrs are Shea’s second family, so when tragedy strikes them, naturally she empathizes and tries to do everything she can do to help them through it. But, with tragedy comes reflection; it’s what makes people reexamine their lives and make changes that they wouldn’t have done otherwise, and Shea is no different in that aspect. Maybe Walker isn’t everything. Shea makes big changes in both her personal and professional lives that, although seem to be the right paths for her, ultimately leave her wondering: what if everything she could ever want or need was there all along. What if Walker really was everything?

There is a major focus on football, but does it work for Giffin? Can her fans get passed the overwhelming assault of an emasculating sport or will they be thoroughly disappointed? Although I was slightly taken aback as to the sheer volume at which football comes into play in The One & Only, I think her writing stands for itself. What I love about Giffin novels is their ability to make me not only feel for and relate to the characters in the story, but also, their ability to make me turn inward and self-reflect. So many of us have aspects of our lives that we are not happy with, whether it be a job that doesn’t interest us, a love life that doesn’t challenge us, or just a melancholic feeling towards ourselves in general. Sometimes, changes have to be made in order for us to be happy, but often times, it’s just more a matter of changing our perception on things, as Shea experiences. Sometimes you need to take a step outside of yourself and your life to realize that everything you ever could have wanted has been there the whole time.

Sometimes you only get one shot. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury to think or wait or plan. Sometimes you have to reach out and seize your moment. Your best, last, or only chance.”

IMG_1956.JPG

The Life & Death of It All

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone utter that expression, but due to recent events in my life, this popped into my head this morning. I am reminded of a scene from the finale of Dawson’s Creek (yes, I was a fan back in the day), where, to paraphrase, Dawson says that the opposite of life isn’t death, that life has no opposite.

It has been a long time since that show aired, but that line has stuck with me through the years, mainly because of how true it is. Birth is the opposite of death because birth is the beginning of something and death the end, but life…life is existing. Can there be a true opposite to that? I don’t think that there is, and I think that that is a thought that is overlooked more often than not. Many people go through life without a care in the world, ignorant of the very real fact that they are on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, because when life ends, that’s it. There are no second chances or do-overs. It’s just over. Then there are others who strive to make a name for themselves, to leave a legacy, but they have it all wrong too. These people are so wrapped up in leaving something behind that they, too, are ignorant in the rarity that is life, and therefore miss out on the little things, which, as we know, really are what make up one’s life. Not that there is anything wrong with living either of those ways, it’s just that often times a person’s life isn’t really appreciated until circumstances threaten its very existence. And it shouldn’t be that way.

We tend to obsess over the little things that really have no significance, something of which I am definitely guilty of. But, I often find that while I am obsessing, something big or traumatic happens to someone that I care about which always forces me to take a step back and reexamine my life, and brings me to the realization that all of my obsessing is just wasting time that should be spent doing/thinking about other things. That, if I put as much effort into my life and my relationships as I do obsessing, I would be leading a much fuller life and, hopefully, not missing out on the things that truly matter.

Right now, in the midst of a life or death situation of someone that I truly care about, I sit back and think about everything that I thought was important, people who I once thought would be with me forever but have faded away, and I realize that, while some of these people I do miss, the only thing that matters is right now: this minute. And that everything else just isn’t as important as I once thought. That the only thing to do is to live in the present, because everything else just isn’t living….

Life has no opposite; life is existing.