when i was a kid, i loved to read. sincerely, honestly loved to read. yes. i was a nerd, a big nerd. especially since at this time i had glasses that sat crooked upon my nose and pre-braces chicklet teeth (just call me mr. wilson).
(sidenote: my good friend parker used to keep a picture of me from this time period in his wallet and he would take it out whenever he had a bad day. it'd give him a good chuckle. yes, that's how bad it was.)
my library card was worn at the corners due to frequent use and i was a regular participant in the summer reading program, eh-hem. yes, i admit this to you freely. truth be told, i couldn't get enough of it. my mind was filled with a yearning for more stories...more mystery...more beauty...more romance. all of which, i could find in my lovely story books.
amidst my great love for books of all genre's, there was one that i wasn't quite so comfortable with. and that was the "choose your own adventure" novels.
i distinctly remember that they were all the rage for my 4th and 5th grade years of school....but i never quite caught onto that train. i found them to be uncomfortable and frustrating.
if you are unfamiliar with the "choose your own adventure" concept, please...let me explain. basically the reader reaches a certain point, and has to make a decision for the main character (example: whether they should journey into the dark, bat infested cave of wonders or take the leap off the ledge of endless hope into the deep waters of misery). yeah, for reals though. that kind of crap.
then, based off of your decision, the author would then tell you which page to turn to and there you would be able to read the consequence of your choice.
this....for lack of a better word: sucked.
i did not, did not enjoy this. in fact, it often times left me feeling angry.
how was i, the innocent reader, supposed to know whether an adventure into a hole in a rock or a jump from a high cliff would give me a better outcome? someone, please explain the point of this. isn't one of the main ideas behind reading a book not to have to make decisions? it's all written, typed, and polished right there for you. take it or leave it, the decisions are made.
but not in the "choose your own adventures".
the ten-year-old me simply couldn't do it. i always had to peek. i'd skip forward to the "cave outcome" page...got a feel for the direction it would take. and then i'd hop over to the "cliff outcome" page and skim that route. i'd gather my pro's and con's, and from there...i'd make my selection.
sure, this worked. i'd usually pick the direction where i got the adventure, the handsome man, and the intrigue. but it wasn't satisfying. at all. because i had cheated. i hadn't taken that "leap". and i hadn't braved the "cave". it felt fake. kind of like a really cheaply written novel: unbelievable and frankly, a waste of publication.
but if i didn't peek, how could i possibly know?
surprising how much this relates to my life. and not just my life as a small child in the library painfully reading a "choose your own adventure", but my life now as a grown up. painfully making my way through my own "choose your own adventure".
call me indecisive. or maybe i'm just too safe. but i certainly do wish i could have a peek.
really though, who knows if choice #1 is the way you'll be most happy. or if choice #2 will be how you find true love....and yet, maybe choice #3 might be, surprisingly, the best possible option...
thank heavens that there is no way for me to flip the pages of my future and peek. because you know i would.
and as i learned in the 4th grade, that's just not as satisfying.
so for now, as i continue this "choose your own adventure"...i'll just keep blindly choosing what i want to choose. depending on the day, i may follow my heart...or, surprise, i may let my mind do the deciding. what day is it today? sunday...hm, maybe i'll let my heart take the lead today.
my philosophy on the choose your own adventure: just make a decision. maybe, it's whatever sounds best. perhaps, it is whatever you love most. or maybe it's whatever you can trust and believe in...and then leap. mmmgh.
brave that cave, if you will.
with that, please skip to page 74.