“The notion of my future suddenly snapped into focus: it didn’t exist yet. I was making it, standing there, breathing, fixing the air around my body with stillness, trying to capture something — a thought, I guess — as though such a thing were possible, as though I believed in the delusion described in those paintings — that time could be contained, held captive. I didn’t know what was true. So I did not step back.”
I just finished reading my sixth book this year. Overall, it was a great read! My Year of Rest and Relaxation has been on my TBR list since last year. Obviously, I have not gotten around to it because I was busy with school stuff. Also, I did not feel like reading it back then because I have heard mixed reviews. I just wanted to play safe with what books to read last year, I guess? Actually, I still have ongoing research due in the next few days. As soon as I woke up tho, I thought since it was Valentine’s Day, maybe I should rest from writing the research. Perhaps, I should dedicate this day to myself and do something I love.
Ok, before I start — I just wanted you to know that this will not be your typical book review. Although I cannot commit to anything right now, I hope that I will be able to do this on all my reads in the year 2022. Fingers crossed.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation has given me a glimpse of rich people’s world. Technically it is a fiction book, but I hope you see my point. Ottessa Moshfegh, the author, was great at introducing the places I have never been to; While reading this book, it felt like I was in museums, art exhibits, and the whatnots. The book was great at taking you to the ups and downs of the main characters’ life: the depressed-but-I-will-not-hide-it and the I-am-composed-but-deep-inside-I-am-full-of-insecurities. Now I understand why this is a polarizing book; If you are not into slow-paced fiction with very flawed characters, I do not think you would like reading it.
“There was majesty and grace in the place of the swaying branches of the willows. There was kindness. Pain is not the only touchstone for growth, I said to myself. My sleep had worked. I was soft and calm and felt things.”
The main character/narrator is unpretentious about what she thinks and feels for the people around her and her life in general. Albeit I find it toxic at times, it was a very fresh take on me because I have not followed a character like her in my past reads. It was dark yet funny, and it pinched my heart a couple of times. Although it did not make me bawl my eyes out, I still enjoyed reading it.
Conceivably, the only wish I had after finishing this book was that the author should have dedicated a chapter where someone aside from the main character/narrator talked about what was happening during the blackouts. Why, how, and what was happening. I literally had a lot of questions unanswered. In fact, when I was around 90% of the book, I thought: Oh, I feel like I might be disappointed with this book.
Boy, oh boy, was I wrong.
The last two chapters redeemed the slow-moving story halfway through and took me down memory lane. It reminded me of the things I did to conquer the overwhelming stress in 2021: to get away from the things that gave me anxiety attacks, my grief, my loss, my loneliness, and the journey in finding the reason why I should keep on living. The book was realistic in the sense that, albeit the relaxation process was ironically chaotic, it eventually all fell into place. It made me feel things. It made me think. It made me reflect.
Now that I had my much-needed rest, I have learned to strip myself of expectations and do the things that indeed make me happy. I am in a good place. I cannot say, for sure, that I am at peace, but what matters is that I am calm right now and that I feel alive once again.
Furthermore, this book reminded me that when we are going through tough times, it is never wrong to take a step back and give yourself time to process everything. You should allow yourself to take it slowly and get a rest — even if it means hibernating— so that you can function better once you have got yourself together.
“There she is, a human being, diving into the unknown, and she is wide awake.”
This line, in particular, gave me a tear or two. Isn’t she brave and admirable to do something like that? To actually dive into the unknown, smiling, like she is never terrified to fall and break. To me, it was heroic (if we are not going to add the context of what really happened). It was making a choice with your head held high. It was taking a leap of faith — that no matter what the result is, you are happy you made something that will change your life in many aspects.
If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be this: thyself. I should thrive on knowing what works for me, so I can take charge and be confident with all the choices I make.