Throwing away trash one day while I was still an undergraduate student, I spotted a stack of books by the trash chute. Being an avid reader, I leafed through some of the books. None too interesting, I settled on an aged paperback close to the top of the stack.
Although the paperback’s pages had discolored with age, I could not help but notice the lack of stress on its covers and pages. This gave me the impression that the book had not been opened, much less read. I thought of putting it back down. After all, who would throw away a good book? But, against my instinct, my curiosity piqued, and unable to resist the opportunity to have a “free read,” I grabbed the book and took it back to my apartment.
Weeks passed, finals came and went, and the book laid there in my bookshelf, waiting, seemingly destined to remain unopened. However, in the midst of boredom one afternoon soon after the end of the semester, I grabbed the book and began to read. To my surprise, I was immediately drawn into the story. I immersed myself, turning one page after another, unable to put the book down for fear of missing out on a surprise twist that laid on the next page. The plot thickened, and my imagination raced and wandered. The book had me under its spell and I could not break free.
And then, a couple of sleepless nights later, I was done. I sighed. It was a great book, an adventure that the former owner did not get a chance to experience. It was a book that he or she found worthless and had not bothered to get to know.
Years have passed since I found that book. As I reflect on the people I have met and continue to meet since then, I cannot help but compare that book to how we live our lives. In a sense, our lives are like books: pages filled with adventures waiting to be experienced, of destinations in far off exotic places waiting to be explored, secrets waiting to be unraveled, love waiting to be savored and treasured, and a life just waiting, waiting to be lived. But for some, their lives are like books half read, and many more are books unopened. They sit by the side of the road, their owners having abandoned all dreams and hope.
I am now a psychotherapist. Mine is the honor of accompanying my clients through a journey, a journey of self exploration and discovery. Oftentimes, these journeys take us into painful paths as we meander through past, present and future, uncovering hidden meanings in words once ignored, reexamining feelings once buried and denied, but which continue to affect relationships today.
Through the process of therapy, I help my clients understand that no story worth reading is complete without trials and pain. And, yes, it is by far much easier to give up than to persevere, to throw away a book rather than lose a night’s sleep. However, to fight on, to continue exploring even when all the lights begin to fade… Our lives are like the main characters in any good book. In the end, having persevered and weathered the storm, we always come out better, stronger and much wiser for the challenges that we endure.
Don’t let your life’s book sit by the wayside… abandoned, neglected and half opened. There is a life, an adventure, around the corner waiting, just waiting, to be discovered and experienced.