How do you value your life? How do you value the worst experience in your life? The loss, the sadness, heartbreak or betrayal? Wouldn’t you rather have a joyful life with less, or if possible lacking of, pain, grief, and hardships? But what happens if the latter asks for a payout in return?
Jonas Karlsson, the writer, puts no name to the main character in this book. This guy could be any one of us who just basically goes through his life in one of the simplest manners. He gets by the events in his life without pause, the deaths of his parents, the secret girlfriend leaving him without turning back. He goes to work everyday at a video store, enjoying the movies, not having much ambition in life. Perhaps it’s a bit boring, but the man is content.
And one day, out of nowhere, his tranquil, simple world falls apart. The way he embraces life, simply accepting what is given to him without much struggle, causes him to owe more to society. The organization running the world decided that he owes them a big chunk of money for living his life. For every contentment he has had, he eventually has to pay. Everytime he gets disappointed but manages to let go, the number goes up.
On the other hand, his buddy – one grumpy guy who always complains and feels like he is the most unlucky person in the world, gets charged less. For every unhappiness he has had, his bill gets reduced. Every time somebody lets him down and he can’t move past it, his bill goes lower.
There is no way out. Nowhere to hide. Each attempt to reduce the bill by going through his past life events just made him owe them even more! His ability to eventually let go of things that did not serve him, to close the door and move on becomes somewhat troublesome. Is it wrong to be the person the way he is?
At the end, there really is nothing any of them can do. You can’t change a person. You can’t take away what makes you “you” only to meet the societal requirements, at any cost.
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