I’ve never been a good pupil of delayed gratification – especially when it comes to books. If I have to pick a novel off a shelf, I tend to read the first page and then I read the last few pages. Counter intuitive, perhaps, but I’d like to know the ending and whether that justifies the journey of reading the book. (The notable exception to this is any Agatha Christie Mystery – because quality speaketh for itself). This habit is fairly recent acquisition and may have to do with the fact that being online frequently has reduced my patience to get through a book. It may also have to do with the fact that I don’t necesssarily have to wait for things anymore unlike the yesteryears, where gratification had to be doled out by my parents.
That musing inspired me to come up with the above quote which then led me to ponder my approach to life. I have always had the bad habit of presuming that life unfolds like a book without taking into account two things.
- If I was the protaganist in a story, I really would not know I was in a story unless a strange twist of fate deemed it fit to inform me ( i.e like the wonderfully thought provoking movie Stranger than Fiction).
- On the other hand, if I was the omniscent narrator, I would be narrating a past event. So on its own, that plot device provides no insight as to how I would conduct myself in the future. As aptly said by Mark Twain:
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t”
The fallacy in this thought process that I am sometimes unable to shake out of is this presumption:
If I can somehow peek at the ending, I’ll be able to judge adequately the decisions I should have made to steer my life better.
(More instances of this general craziness is wishing my life was a musical, that moments should be MOMENTS and that occasionally, I wish I could see myself in a moment, with the camera panning across that scene OR that there was a wide angle lens zooming in towards me)
BUT that presumption does not take into account the following:
- Life is not made up of one final climax scene or a cliff hanger. It is in fact made up of many little little mundaneness with a few cliffhangers that steer it a particular way and that journey is Life. The plot is life, not the end.
- Seeing as I don’t quite believe in destiny/fate*, it is difficult to argue that my life has only one ending when in reality, it has multiple endings, depending on how I choose to conduct myself so it is theoretically impossible to have one journey to one end, so even if I were to peek at the end, there is no guarantee that it would be THE end that I would encounter at the end…!
Strictly speaking, I know the ending of my life, which is death. I don’t know how I’ll die which is really part of the plot and is not contained in the last few pages.
But that’s an exercise in delayed gratification ‘fo sure!
* Not to mention, I really do believe that parallel universes can exist, perhaps not quite in the pop culture sci-fi belief but definitely in a manner that we have yet to understand. Considering that time is relative, this has got to be true!