I’ve recently finished an audiobook version of ‘All Our Wrong Todays’ by Elan Mastai. What attracted me initially was the title. The idea of us having a ‘wrong today’ resonated as quite often we can believe that we have been given a life we didn’t want, plan or deserve. It’s a belief that often leads to frustration, resentment, anger and all manners of negative thoughts that can eat into us and make us miserable.
The book follows the narrating character, Tom Barren, who comes from a futuristic world full of hover cars and impressive architecture. Technology has opened up the horizon of different modes of transport, eating, living and family relationships. Tom is a bit of a nobody, with an estranged father and a dead mother. Without wanting to spoil too much as it's a book worth reading, here is a summary (from bookbrowse.com):
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and - maybe, just maybe - his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom's search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future - our future - is supposed to be.
This book is a powerful portrayal of how different decisions, events and circumstances could have created completely different realities for our lives and the lives around us. Of course, I’m not suggesting that any of us could have changed ‘the fabric of the universe itself,’ but we do have influence over the fabric of our own universes, if you like. Quite often, we make decisions to create realities for ourselves that perhaps were never meant to exist in the first place. It might be that we went for a job that wasn’t best suited for us or we bought a car that wasn’t the ideal fit for our needs. There is always something that we are not content with in our reality. It’s as if it is a ‘wrong today.’
To quote from the book, ‘life is defined mostly by how you handle failure.’ Whilst I don’t agree with that definition of life, I do want to touch on this idea of failure. Because we all have it yet we never want to talk about it. In a lot of my working life, I have been fearful of failing. Not necessarily because I can’t handle the failure, but because of the way it may warp or shape people’s opinions of me. Why do you think we don’t tell many people when we’ve booked our driving test? Because we don’t want people to know that we’ve failed. Why is there such a taboo around failure? Everyone is human, makes mistakes, tries things that don’t work out. We should look to help one another build on these failures, not hide them and suffer the consequences alone, or discredit others because of their failure.
That’s where love comes in. Mastai touches on this, that love can ‘build a person out of all of your broken pieces.’ This for me, as a Christian, reflected how I have felt the love of Christ in my life. There are times where I have been broken, I still am fundamentally broken. I have been blessed in many ways and I am not going to deny the fact that I’ve lived a sheltered life. But, I am human and there are things in my life that hold me back from living it to the full.
John 10: 10 - Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and that get may have it to the full.”
His love and grace have taken me, a broken person, into a place where I can experience the fullness of joy and everlasting peace. This is not all the time. Things distract me and my selfish desires get me wrapped up into other things, but whenever I return to Christ and see what He has done, and how much He loves everyone of us, it’s incredible how much my mind goes still and I can concentrate on what He directs me to do. God is love (1 John: 4:8), and in thinking about Mastai’s comment, that love channelled through His spirit and other people can certainly build something out of broken pieces.
So, to think about ‘All Our Wrong Todays,’ Mastai also notes that “there’s no such thing as the life you’re supposed to have.” The sentiment of not placing expectations on life to only be downtrodden and disappointment when it doesn’t come to pass, I agree with. But, to take that quote alone, I would have to disagree. I believe in a God who has a perfect plan for every person on this earth and who He loves enough to give the choice about whether to walk in it. He knows what is best for us. This is the assurance that I have, that no matter what happens in life, if I follow His directions daily and seek to walk in His purpose, I know I am in my ‘right today’.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Until next time!