Monday, March 5, 2012

The Book Ends?!

Last week I stumbled across We Are in a Book by Mo Willems. Here’s the gist: Gerald and Piggie discover they are in a book. At first, this is great, exciting, hilarious. The possibilities are endless. But when Gerald realizes the book is going to end, it becomes upsetting. Terrifying, even. The moment Gerald cries out, “But I want to be read!”, I felt it right in my gut. I realized then that he and I have something in common. We both want to know: If the book is going to end, what do we do? How do we live?

My grandfather, who is slowly succumbing to dementia, likes to ask a similar question: “What is the point?” (Of life, he means. Of living, struggling, and dying.) And ever since my grandfather forgot my name, I’ve been asking it too.

These days, I've come to realize just how afraid of death I really am (is there anyone who isn’t?). But there’s a fine line between healthy fear and crippling fear. And I never want to be crippled by this fear the way Gerald is nearly crippled by it on page 46. I’ve come to realize, though, that the only way to stop being afraid is to stop caring, which I also don’t want to do. So, somehow, Gerald and I need to learn to juggle the two – loving this life that we’ve been given, while also fearing the loss of it. Because really, that’s what makes life - and books - precious. The knowledge that they’re going to end. It’s a kind of catch-22.

In The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, her grandfather says to her, “It is better to travel with hope in one’s heart than to arrive in safety. We should celebrate today’s failure because it is a clear sign that our voyage of discovery is not yet over. The day the experiment succeeds is the day the experiment ends. And I inevitably find that the sadness of ending outweighs the celebration of success.” Journeys need endings, or else they wouldn't be journeys. 

So here’s to the horizon. Bottom's up.

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