It’s late, 12:30 AM to be exact. I know full well that I shouldn’t be out for an evening stroll because I should be in bed, it’s dangerous, I shouldn’t be out alone after dark, and all of the other reasons that my mother ever gave me for being safe inside at a reasonable hour. However, I cannot sleep. My mind has been completely overwhelmed and therefore restless as of late. There are far too many thoughts crowded what feels like an ever-shrinking yet ever-expanding head. Rather than resort to the vices I’ve come to know and love over the years, I go for a quiet, peaceful walk in the park near my childhood home. The quiet is the most refreshing and lovely sound I have heard in weeks. It gives me a chance to just be, and to not hear anything at all. I can think all of the thoughts that I want to, and being outside gives me the space to let them escape into the universe so that I don’t have to house them inside myself.
As I am walking, I come to a bench and decide to take a seat and allow myself to drift off into the expanse. Approaching the bench, I see a book lying there. “Ah, someone must have left this here by accident,” I think to myself. I can imagine them sitting there among the lovely trees, watching birds land and take off from the small pond near the bench while they lose themselves in a fascinating story, and I hope that they enjoyed their day. I pick it up only to see my name branded clearly across the front of it. At first I only thought it was a tattered paperback that someone had left behind. The outside was torn in places, parts of it had been taped together but looked like they wouldn’t hold up very well, and in all honesty it looked completely tattered. It looked worn out, like someone had read it a hundred times, chewed it up, spit it out, put it in a shredder and then tried to piece it back together again. The spine, however, was pretty well in tact. Confused and curious, I open it.
In the upper right corner of the very first page is written April 21, 1989, my birthday. The very beginning of my life, and it is detailed in this newly discovered book. My first few precious moments of life, the look of pride and happiness on my mother’s face, and the pure joy of my grandfather. I am reading it all from my own perspective, even though I don’t have any conscious memory of it. Fascinated, I keep reading. I read on and on, through my first crush (in pre-school), my first day of kindergarten, the time I got chicken pox. I make it all the way up to my fifth grade graduation when I realize that it is 3 AM and I am still sitting on a park bench in a semi-questionable part of town. I quickly and quietly scurry to my car and drive home. I try to lay down and get some sleep, but after about fifteen minutes of trying to get comfortable and calm my mind, I decide to just get up and read more of my life.
The experience is quite surreal because I am reading every event, every moment, every emotion of my life from my own perspective. It’s as though I kept the most detailed diary (no, not Facebook) and am experiencing everything all over again. My first kiss, my first love, the day my grandfather died. As much as I want to skip this part, I know I can’t. I didn’t handle it well the first time, and now I feel like I get to do it again. Experience every bit of that pain anew, allow it to penetrate my heart, and then accept it. Dare I go on reading? Yes. I get through high school and it’s just as unpleasant as it was when I was actually there. I move past it and get in to the questionable college years. I see every single bad decision and am amazed at how stupid I was. Why did I do that? Why was I friends with them? Ah, and then we meet my husband. Reading about him and our relationship from an insider’s outside perspective, I scream at the book. NO! Why are you doing this? RUN! Run AWAY! Don’t do it!!! Your Mom is right!!! Of course, I know what’s going to happen next and I can’t stop it. It already happened. Only this time, I see the writing on the wall. I see what was there the entire time and wonder why I didn’t listen to my mother…or myself. Soldiering on, I relive every tear, every fight, every time he tried to make it up to me, and then every time he only let me down again. I find that there were some happy moments there and for a second I want to highlight them. I change my mind, though, because it’s in the past and I don’t need to remember the good or the bad at this point. The divorce is spelled out here as well, for me to revisit, even though it’s still a little fresh.
Finally, I catch up to the present. Right this very second. The next page is a mirror. It’s thin and light just like every other page, but it is unmistakably a mirror. Doing what everyone does with a mirror in their hand, I hold it up to my face. Do you know what I saw? My reflection, obviously. I’m still here, alive. Pages and pages, chapters, years have gone by. Some ugly things happened in this book, but some very lovely things happened as well. God continues to wake me up every morning. I am still here, so it must be for a reason. If I had no more purpose, God would call me home. Yet every day, he grants me the present. I do what anyone would do in this moment and cry. A lot. It’s the kind of crying one does when you realize that you’re still standing, even though circumstances and people have tried to knock you down. After a while, I get up and make myself a cup of coffee. I haven’t exactly gotten an acceptable amount of sleep, and also need to calm myself a bit. All of these thoughts and memories are swirling around in my head, but it all feels so much better than it did before. It’s like I was able to truly organize every thought I’ve ever had, and my mind is clearer than ever. It’s a truly liberating feeling, and I don’t quite know what to do with myself other than enjoy the quiet for a moment. The cats come and lay down with me, and I slip into a nap for about 30 minutes. Upon waking, I see the book sitting next to me still.
It wasn’t a dream. I really did find a book of my life and read it. It’s even still open to the mirror page. But wait, there’s more after that page. I mean, of course there’s more. Obviously my life goes on. Is there anything written on those pages, or is it blank and waiting to be written? I take one last glance in the mirror and flip it over. There’s more. Flipping through the rest of the volume, I see that every single page is covered in text. My whole life is in here, beginning to end. Whoa, the end is in here, too. If it hasn’t happened, how can it be in this surreal diary? If I read it, it’s like looking in to the future. I would know exactly what happens in the rest of my life. I almost feel like that’s cheating, though. No one gets to know what happens before it happens. Only people in fantasy novels get to see the future. But, I’ve already read the past, so I might as well read the future, too. Making another cup of coffee, I sit down and prepare for another night of reading.