I laid flat, spreading the book on my chest while my hands grasped the pages. Staring at the ceiling, I was disappointed at how slow I was reading. “I’m only 15% in the book, and what on Earth is going to happen that make this fiction so long?” My fingers ran across the cover, caressed the yellow-brown pages, then darted to the end. I skipped “Notes, ” “Acknowledgement,” “Epilogue.” I skipped “The End” to just a handful paragraphs above it. I read and read, searching for the names of my favorite characters, to see if their business would end happily, to see if anyone die, to see if the bad would remorse and the good would be justified. Yes, there needn’t anyone spoil an ending for me. I would do that myself.
Minding the ending I never do. Because the process that leads to the end is what matters. Unlike a piece of drawing when you cherish the final static state, reading a book or watching a movie gives the satisfaction of delving into a journey, a process with an ending that might or might not make the book remarkable. I have heard it enough to remember that sometimes a good book starts with a normal life, of children going to school and adults working hard, and then “Boom!” everything but the ordinary happens. The plots stir up emotions in readers, which I usually find to be anger, confusion, disappointment, and annoyance. A plot sometimes make me feel uncomfortable and hopeless, and so I look to the end, trying to “see the future” and to silently reassure my characters that either everything is going to be fine or they are doomed.
My life, in the same way, isn’t always on the right track. Life doesn’t sail in a straight and correct path. Life continuously needs steering back to the right direction and sometimes life gets into storms. Into dark days when lightning strikes. Into wavering water ready to swallow the strong captain and everyone else onboard. On days like those, I wish I could read my life from the back, skip the “Notes,” “Acknowledgement,” “Epilogue.” I wish I could see “The End” and enjoy the happy ending of all or mourn the unlucky days ahead. After all, isn’t that what people always say, “to be the author of your life.” After all the books I have read, this is the one thing that took long for me to learn: fiction is the food of reality, it isn’t reality.
Over the course of the past months, while observing myself in different activities, I have noticed things I should improve on and things I am pretty good at. I also realized how my opinions change over time, slowly becoming someone I want to be in some facets of life and someone I wish to never be in others, and it makes me humble. It makes me open to who I really am. Just lately, while reading a book, I gasped out of annoyance because the book seemed to not end in a positive way. “If you can craft art, why don’t you design it to turn out happily?” Because it’s fiction, there is still hope. Why on Earth the author makes the situation so hopeless? Isn’t life sad enough in itself.
I have always read because it is a fun activity, but I never have the good reason to convince someone they should read. My reading time is just as fun as others’ playing video games time, and I never think the benefits I ripe is the common denominator of the activity. Yet, for the first time, I looked at books as an escape path for life. To actually live somewhere else and be someone else. To add on a perspective to my ordinary life with very few plots. I also realize that peeking at the ending isn’t so fun, because it’s the not knowing that makes books more enjoyable and worth delving in. I won’t get upset when someone tries to spoil the ending of a not-yet-read book or a not-yet-watch movie, but I will be more patient with the characters’ life, exploring it just as they are exploring themselves.