Life is a Book. – A Long Short Story

I’ve read this. It seemed different. This book looked amazing. Beautiful cover, fascinating preface, the plot kept me wanting more. And the author, well, I liked him. It was up and down at times, however, this without a doubt, would allow my emotions to eventually even keel, giving my life purpose. Or so I thought. I needed to see where this story could ultimately end. I needed the journey but was more passionate about finding the conclusion. It was a book called “Time Waits For No Man”, and although I had absolutely no idea where this story would take me, I was willing to wholeheartedly be at its mercy. No expectations, very little guarantees and even fewer promises. After the purchase, I was somewhat tentative that this wasn’t something for me. Perhaps, something I should first read reviews about or simply check out at a local library. I was reluctant and hesitant. This was just my pessimistic side coming out, in which I like to refer to as a cautious attempt of a gradual soft landing. It is a self-let down tactic that works quite well and efficiently, a process in which I frequent. I needed none of this. I wanted to find out for myself, I needed to. This was different. This book was going places and I wanted to know where.

As I held it in my hands for the first time, I was full of wonderment. I was naive and still very much far from any future letdowns. If the first few pages were not what I wanted, I could just stop reading, take it back and perhaps even buy something else. This is a line I vividly remember standing on. Throughout life, these lines are everywhere, periodically appearing whenever and wherever. Some people refer to them as life’s little tests. I would like to remember them simply as the Field of Dreams first base foul line. Do or die. Make or break. Baseball player or Doc Graham. Whatever decision you come up with, you can‘t take it back, regardless if it is right or wrong. Life is full of decisions and we have to understand that the choices we make all have their consequences. Ironically, my favorite book growing up was the Choose Your Own Adventure series. I would always choose all the right decisions, chapter upon chapter, until the end. (Unfortunately, I am sensing this as my life’s foreshadowing of fictional reality.) I would always fall off the mountain or the abominable snowman would eat me. For the life of me, I could never actually choose the RIGHT adventure, thus, having a “happily ever after”. Ultimately, I would go back to my previously successful choice and re-think my strategy until I saved the princess from within the fiery castle walls. This was one of my first few life lessons and one in which I forgot about, until now. I learned that if you make a wrong choice in life, it’s not the end of anything. Go back to the point in which things were going well, just before your decision allowed a snow creature to swallow you whole, and fix it. Reevaluate your previous decision and make a better one. Do not quit or give up hope, hell, you read seven chapters, why quit now? So what if you chose to go in the dark ice cave alone without the flashlight, live and learn.

The other lesson that I thought I had versed from the CYOA series was to ALWAYS read ahead. It’s not cheating, it’s the self let down tactic, remember? Maybe I needed this in life. Maybe I should have read ahead in this book that I recently purchased. It’s an unbelievable feeling to try and prepare yourself for something you can’t foresee in the future. You are cautious and try to prep yourself and it still consistently blindsides you somehow. You can’t breathe and everything slows down. It is something that everyone can relate to and yet, no one can help. It’s a scary feeling of helplessness that never gets any easier. You reach out to anyone and everyone and you even find yourself seeking advice from friends that are no longer. Their advice is nothing more than a Walt Whitman quote, or a Hallmark Card phrase, or a few comforting words from their late grandmother. It’s useless, because there is no cure. Anything they provide is only false comfort and the real truth lies within yourself. It just takes the time to find it.

In the very beginning, I had turned the book over to the back cover to read a few things others had said about it, such as, “Promising”-USA Today, or “Heartfelt”-Newsweek, and the best one yet, “You can’t go wrong”- NY Times. I hate you New York Times. To think about it now, it’s astonishing to remember that moment, that one moment; I was one turn away from the ending and so incomprehensibly close to possibly ruining the entire book by looking, but conceivably saving my time and anguish. This in theory could qualify as a mutual and undeniable method of preventing heartbreak. This is another life decision that you have to ponder from time to time. This is something that I am figuring out and truly may believe that this, this, is life itself.

I read very little of this book at first, only when I had a moment or two between my self sufficient, independent, daily repetitive activities. Such as work, gym, or tv dinners. However, as time passed, I found myself rearranging my life in order to read just one more page. It was amazing. I found myself smiling more and more, allowing it to give me hope. This book was very similar to one I had read years ago; however, it wasn’t the same. It was more defined and carried more merit, possibly life changing. Ultimately, I had assumed that it would have a different ending then anything I had previously read. I could not entertain the thoughts of the ones before. I would not allow myself to emotionally endure this outcome. I could not look ahead, no matter if in the end; I would indeed, once again, become let down.

Page by page, I had read on. Stepping over the line and not looking back, the chapters passed, time had as well. I was evolving into something that I had protected. I was vulnerable. My take out dinners had turned into sit downs. My car was cleaner and my bed was made. My couch grew smaller and my dishes doubled. Nothing extremely unordinary – just revisited, however, still a transition. These are the times I will never forget. The times in which, even if a book was bad, it had its moment to reel you in, to captivate you. Where, if it started to become something I wasn’t interested in, I wasn’t yet self-invested. This was not the case. I was invested. I wanted to be invested. I had a constant smile, the kind of smile where co-workers start to ask you if everything is alright. The smile that imitates your love for 5 O’ clock on a weekday and nothing is beyond the moment, the moment that everything seems right. The kind of smile when you press shuffle on your ipod and out of 5,000 songs, your all time favorite song is the first song to play. This is the smile that you search for on the inside and allow for it to shine on the outside. I guess it’s more or less a cross between fate, luck and soul searching. Regardless, I cherish that smile and will search for it always.

This book was perfect. I found myself a few chapters in and loving every second of it. I took it with me everywhere; out to breakfast, sitting on a bench at the park, and even to my parent’s- where I visited sparsely since the purchase. My once daily repetitive activities were swept under the bed. They were placed in a small box labeled independent self efficient life. Good riddance. I mean, I cherished them but it was time for something else. It was time to take another chance. I crossed that line anyway, right? I chose this adventure and I will learn from mistakes made in the past. These mistakes are stepping stones to help you reach a higher goal, the goal that leads you to the right adventure and the childhood story book phrase….”Happily ever after”. Life is trying and there are moments that take effort, compromise, and an understanding. You can find a long life full of happiness, just not ever after. Life is not a fairytale and nor should you treat it as such. However, the thought of living happily ever after does allow room for hope and imagination. It’s a place where dreams are stored when you awake and possesses the underlying presence of something we may search for our entire life, can never find, but refuse to give up in its existence. That is something I can believe in. This is something I can be happy about.

I am now a third of the way through this book and some things are becoming very scheduled. I like this. I find myself reading it first thing every morning and at least every other day after work. I even started reading it before I would fall asleep. It’s almost comforting to know that it’s never far from my side. The story is starting to intensify and there are moments that made me guarantee that this book would have an ending like no other. It has allowed me to question things in which I previously had never before. I was starting to recommend it and tell others about it. I almost could not imagine it getting any better than at this exact point. I wanted to stop. I wanted to put it down, in hopes that I could be content with not knowing the conclusion. Just be happy with this moment. I told myself that. I believed that. I was no longer looking past the current page. I wanted to, and I knew I eventually would, however, this was too ideal to look beyond. For this, was perhaps a turning point and something I may never fully understand.

Time had passed and I was steadily flowing through each page, the current one always better than the previous. It had captured every ounce of my attention, even when it would appear differently. Everything else seemed less important and I was more than ok with this. I began taking it on long road trips and places where I have never been before; I began to question where this has led me. I felt as though I was on a path with a clear direction and yet, I was unsure if I’d reach a destination. However, I could not complain. The opportunity that has been presented to me was something I would cherish and welcome with open arms. This was something beyond my control. I was along for the ride and where it stops, no one knows.

I began to grow anxious and the temptation was too much. I glanced ahead throughout the book, hoping to get a glimpse of the end before I was completely ready. I faltered and fell from grace. I was worried about where I was or was not heading, instead of purely enjoying its approach. Familiar words and sentences started appearing before my eyes. “Overwhelmed” “Friendship” “Confused”. Everything now had seemed to mesh together. Sentences were now becoming words. Smiles into frowns. Pages were becoming difficult to turn. There were more exclamation marks and fewer periods. Paragraphs were becoming smaller and smaller. Sentences into fragments. Until, nothing…. The pages were empty. I frantically tried to search for an answer. Trying to understand why everything started sounding so familiar and then left me with nothing. I felt sorrow and confusion. I was searching for air, as I tried backtracking towards a previous chapter, focusing on finding out what just went wrong. There would be no answers for me. Several days passed and I would try to open it up and see if anything had changed. It seemed like a nightmare that I could not wake up from. This seemed to be my destiny. No answer was the answer.

Feeling as though I had lost a part of myself, I slowly remembered the box I stored away under my bed entitled independent self sufficient life. As I dusted it off, I opened it apprehensively and just peered in utter disbelief. Everything that once seemed so familiar seemed new once again. I refused to grasp it,almost welcoming the state of disbelief for the time being. As the hours turned into days, and days into weeks, I figured out how to intervene them back into my life. I had to accept this. I was the one who wrote this book. I caused it to become incomplete and it seems as though I can no longer go backwards in order to proceed forward. I read ahead. I looked beyond my moment and didn’t allow its words to reflect my true desires. I had assumed that actions would speak louder than words and I was wrong. I was unable to finish it because of my mistakes and my unwillingness to change something that caused me similar endings. Nonetheless, I would not take it back for a second. I loved every moment and although my mistakes are now visible, my intentions still flow throughout my heart. I am willing to acknowledge this and accept this as a consequence. Refusing to change old habits, only promotes them and encouraging stubbornness results in a repetitive history. I have learned a valuable lesson that I will never forget. What allowed me to get to that point was miraculous. It’s not what happens in the end that I will remember, it’s what allowed me to open it, that I will defend forever.

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