When “The End” Isn’t The End
Something I think I will never understand is how a friend of mine will read the last page of a book before anything else. It’s like that whole car scene in When Harry Met Sally without the morbid outlook. See, my friend cannot stand when the author of a book ends things on a sad, abrupt, or ambiguous note. She’s quite the fan of happy endings. I, on the other hand, love endings that are surprising, realistic, and mysterious. Reading the last page would absolutely ruin the thrill of not knowing where the story will end up. And yeah, there is the risk of buying a book that totally sucks in the end, but I love that too. You get to rant to other bookworms about how the publishers must have a toxic leak in their building’s ventilation system to publish such a sorry excuse for a book.
I guess what my friend likes about reading the last page is that she can determine if reading that book will be a waste of her time. Which is practical on one level, because if you could read people like books and just skip to the last page to see if their last words were “I go to seek a Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais) or “Shut up” (I bet somebody has), then think of all the dumb people you could have skipped. On a metaphorical level it conveys human’s constant struggle for control in their lives. I know, I know…I sound like a pompous psychoanalyst who thinks that because they have a degree they are superior to the rest of us morons, but let me go somewhere else with this.
Okay, so, if you could read the last page of people’s lives you would, right? But what about yours? What about the whole flippin’ book, skipping around to all the really shocking stuff? If I had known when I was ten that at seventeen I’d be spending my days at a psych ward, I’m pretty sure my whole future would have switched around. Maybe for better, maybe for worse. If you’ve ever seen Back To The Future than you know what I’m talking about. And if you’ve seen Back To The Future III, then you know where I’m going with this.
So, if we had these people-books right now, and could know how stuff in our lives turn out, what would you look up? Sure, how you die for starters. Everyone wants to be prepared if they’re going to die in a plane crash in the middle of Antarctica while sitting next to a clown named Chuckles (and you can bet that most people would prepare by getting their cousin Bubba to shoot them in the face because there’s no way in hell that dying listening to Chuckles, well, chuckling is going to be the way they go). Death, check. How about figuring out which major they actually graduated with a degree in? Or knowing how many kids you’ll/your wife will pop out? Which friends actually stuck around for life?
Ooo, now to get the attention of every female on the planet…how about knowing which relationship turns into happily ever after? Or happily never after, even?
We all want to skip husbands one and two to get to number three or five. We all want to skip the embarrassing blind dates, the awful duds who whisked you to tacky restaurants, the heartbreak of the ones that got away.
Now before you think I’m going to start spewing some relationship mumbo-jumbo about how relationships are life lessons and how sometimes they’re just “not meant to be”, hold on a second. I’m wondering how many of us got into a relationship, fell in love, and truly, truly believed that they had found something. Something worth it, someone who made life worth it. The whole life lesson and “meant to be” crap just becomes a reminder that you were wrong, that you didn’t find something.
Or did you?
Look, one misleading decision may or may not affect my happily ever after, or happily never after. Three months of mourning a broken relationship doesn’t mean it was a meaningful misleading decision, either. Life has this awful case of dry humor sometimes, where it likes to throw something monstrous in our path and see how we can get around it. Just because you got around King Kong doesn’t mean you’ll kick the Yeti’s ass. But I suppose the upside to all of these daunting obstacles is that you can one day say, I got through that, and it wasn’t the end for me.
I guess struggling with my depression has taught me a few things (here comes the annoying life lesson crap). I know that one day I will be depressed again. One day my mom will die. One day I’ll lose my money. One day I’ll get my heart-broken again. Basically, bad shit IS going to happen, no matter how prepared you try to be, no matter how strong you are, no matter if you cry or don’t. That’s just life. We can’t control the bad shit; we can only avoid it for so long. The good shit, however, is in our hands a bit. If you keep reaching for happiness, it doesn’t always mean you’ll get it, true. But if you trust yourself, really trust yourself and put your life in your hands, you will go in the best direction for yourself, and become, you know, happy.
We can’t control our mortality; we can’t control fate, luck, or any of that other mumbo-jumbo. But one thing we will always have control over is who we are, and the decisions we will make.
So looking in your life book…not so much important if you trust yourself.
Life can suck, but it doesn’t have to end there.
Originally written: 6/15/12