My wife often sends me blogs and compelling stories that she comes across during her day. Marina Keegan's piece for the Yale Daily News "The Opposite of Loneliness" simply stopped me in my tracks. Marina's writing was so extraordinary and inspiring; it instantly made an impact on my life. I couldn't believe that this brilliant person was gone.
I felt myself mourning the loss of someone that I'd never met. This line of the piece had the largest effect on me: "We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have."
It reminded me that the best years of my life are not behind me... They are in the present. Right here, right now. This fragile life is what we make of it and we must embrace that gift. That is what I personally took away from Marina's story. I'm not usually one to take things for granted but I hold my wife a little tighter now. Life feels a bit sweeter because of Marina's honest words.
It's always a tragedy when someone so talented leaves this world at such a young age. But I know that her writing has had such a profound effect on so many people. It has changed lives. And as a writer or artist, isn't that the greatest success you could ever hope for?
This song is inspired by Marina and dedicated to her memory.
I got The Opposite of Loneliness when I was entering my freshmen year of college. I read it furiously in my dorm room looking for answers to questions I couldn't put into words yet and reading her words caught me by surprise. At the time, I was going through a rough patch. I've dealt with depression for the majority of my life and usually the only way I could crawl my way out of the dark place was reading or writing. Marina's words got me out of that dark place. I don't have any particular reason for writing this other than to say thank you. I was looking through my old books and stumbled upon her's and I felt convinced I needed to write something. I know she's no longer here and I wish I could've told her that her words changed my life but I can't, so I'm telling you. Thank you for helping me realize that I had time, and that I am young, and that I can still start over if that's what I want. Her book didn't drastically change my life in the moment I read it but afterwards, her essays and stories stuck with me, forcing a change in my head and my heart. I am so happy now and I can't thank Marina enough for writing when she was still here, because I know that I probably wouldn't be here today had she not. So, here I am 21 years old, about to start my senior year of college with dreams of becoming a writer and moving to New York after graduation. In a few weeks I'll be making a speech in front of classmates and faculty about how writing has saved me and I just want you to know that reading Marina's writing, saved me too.
All the best,
with Benjamin Wenzelberg
I was lucky enough to stumble upon a collection of short stories and essays by Marina Keegan, entitled The Opposite of Loneliness...I bought the book because the title hooked me: the opposite of loneliness…do we have a word for that? What do I consider my opposite of loneliness? I was immediately struck by the stories that she chose to tell, which were simple yet complicated, youthful yet wise. Her choice of words was vivid and evocative, making me cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time. The heart of each story happened within the character, their process thinking about life, decisions, shortcomings and successes; it resonated within my very bones.
It’s so rare we find someone, in this giant expanse of a world, someone else who thinks just like you. I unfortunately never got the chance to meet Marina Keegan, but I feel as though she was one of those people for me. I’ve gotten to know her through the words that she wrote. She was an activist, playwright, author, and journalist who, as her mother puts it, “sang the song of hope”. Her story lives on in her words, and those who share them. I would like to share with you the dedication page, written by her parents, for The Opposite of Loneliness:
“I will live for love and the rest will take care of itself” were Marina’s words on graduation day, the last time we saw her. The Opposite of Loneliness is dedicated to love. Our hope is that Marina’s message of love will inspire readers to imagine the possibilities and make a difference in the world.
Marina has made a world of difference in my life and in what I do. I would now like to share with you her words, which have left me speechless.