About two weeks ago my husband and I attended a promotion for John Green‘s new novel TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN. It was awesome! Not just because of the fun fandom of nerdfighters, or Jphn’s brother Hank dressing like a turtle and teaching us about taxonomy, or the Dear Hank and John podcast performed for us, or Hank Green singing his science music, or even John reading from his book (which was beautiful).
The thing that stuck with me the most was that John told a story of a fellow author, Amy Krause Rosenthal, who died last year. (I’m paraphrasing this story) He explained that he went to one of her book promotions before she passed, and she told an unusual story. During WWI the British soldiers in the trenches would sing, “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here” to the tune of Old Lang Syne. It was a depressing song about not knowing where they were or why they were in such horrible circumstances. But there they were. So they sang. John told us that by the end of the seminar his late author friend had given new meaning to the song.
He told us that ‘we’re here because’ now meant that we are here together. That we are here in this moment. That we are not alone and that we have the chance to do something positive together. He then had us as a group sing the words with hope, together.
We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here!
It was really uplifting and I was glad that we could help him honor his lost friend as well as take such a wonderful lesson from her life.
Yesterday, my husband and I were talking about all the ways in which life hasn’t turned out how we had hoped. We don’t have children, we live far from our families, I’ve recalled events from my past that I had made myself forget and that has put me on disability. You get the point. I thought for a moment and told my husband, “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here.”
He immediately understood my meaning. No one’s life turns out the way they think it will when they are younger because no one knows what life will bring. Rather than wallow in our sorrows let’s make the most of the love, friendships, and opportunities that are right here in front of us. Let’s be here because after all, we are here.
Bonus: British soldier Edward Dwyer sings “We’re Here Because We’re Here” in a 1916 recording.