Your Life in a Book


Face it: if we could all choose to live in a book, most of us would want the "... and they lived happily ever after" ending.

Well, there are a few wackos who want the "... and he subjugated them all and ruled forever" conclusion (I hope their story is followed by a tragic sequel!).

Wackos can be amusing and colorful, but they are usually egomaniacs and drama queens that most of us could live happily without. But most people are more mature and less maniacal, and they are the only ones that anyone really cares about. Those who care deeply about others, and who have at least one person whose happiness is more important than their own; in my books, those are the only ones that matter.

Ignoring the wackos for a moment, we must ask one question: Why can't we all live like we're in a book?

Answer: Excuse me? Have you ever read a book? The Count of Monte Cristo goes on an extravagant quest of vengeance and murder, Scrooge wants to impoverish everyone in the world but himself, The Queen of Hearts threatens to behead Alice, Voldemort nearly wins, and David Copperfield discovers that his trusted best friend is a most-despicable man. In The VIKINGS! Trilogy ... well, there's Eric ... now imagine that you live in Grusshire ...

The problem is that we, in the real world, do not share one world. In Tolkien's Middle-Earth, everyone knew that the elves were the first-born; no one argued that fact ... or threatened to fight a war over it. In Oz, the Quadlings never claimed that the Land of the Munchkins actually belongs to them due to some terrible event that happened in the time of their great-grandfathers. Even in a war-torn worlds like Krynn (Dragonlance), most of the facts of their world are widely agreed upon, and everyone agreed that there are some parts of their shared history that no one really knows - they're not killing each other over unknown histories.

We can't 'live in a book' because Planet Earth will never have only one main story. In a novel, many people are unimportant to the whole work; those are the characters that they cut out of the movies. On Earth, everyone is both the author and the hero of their own story. What happens to them matters to someone (at least to them). They don't come into the world only when they matter to some other person's story, and they don't vanish into the ether when someone else stops interacting with them.

But we smart, sophisticated readers of today: we live in a crazy world of billions of realities; we don't all agree upon anything. We argue over the definitions of the very words that we use to argue. We are insulted when people deny facts that we know are correct, yet we demand physical proof of any facts that deny our beliefs.

Books have to make sense, but real life seldom has any logic behind it. With books, you can argue with the author, find a discrepancy in their plot, and the author can just explain it away or fix it: problem solved. Life doesn't work that way: a character in a book can die, and sadden the reader, but when a close friend dies, it's not just a plot-twist: real people matter.

No one should want to 'live in a book'. In a book, you are a character. You have no free will; you go along with a plot that someone else wrote, face obstacles that were created just to thwart you, and your life ends shortly after the resolution of the plot.

Good main characters do not always submit to the will of other characters; they make hard decisions based on their morals and act accordingly. We must do the same.

In the real world, you don't want to be a character; you want to be an author (at least of your own life). Part of life is avoiding letting others write our story; we must write our own lives, choose our own adventures, and our biggest obstacles to happiness are usually wackos who want to author our lives.

Books reveal truths in us, placing us in very uncomfortable moral dilemmas, where we must approve or disapprove of how the characters react to the strange situations that they find themselves in. How we judge the decisions of those characters tells us more about ourselves than anything about the characters. Books help us find the author in ourselves.

Read books to learn about yourself, but be the author of your own life.

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