I finished reading a book late last night, a piece of fiction I picked up for fun, and, at least toward the end of it, had a hard time putting back down. When it was over, it really wasn’t over at all, for turns out the author has eight more novels in the series, so of course he left the main question, woven throughout his first, unanswered.
And I, having committed to not reading the succeeding stories, found myself incredibly frustrated, as I had rushed to the finish to discover just what, exactly, the main character of the novel, was, only to find myself holding a disappointingly half-filled bucket, hardly closer to any sort of resolution than I had been on Page One.
Having no answers and only the unsatisfying vastness of open-ended questions, I shut the book, stuck it on the shelf, and stubbornly told myself, as I cycled to yoga the next morning, that I would google the ending that I so desperately craved.
And then it struck me.
How, I had chosen this novel, about a 25 year old girl who up and flees her life, moving to San Francisco without really knowing why, merely following an internal, intuitive pull, not by chance, such a very similar tale, it is, to my own story.
As is the ending, or rather, the lack thereof, of any such thing.
And so as my wheels spun along the slowly creeping lift of a night-fallen curtain, to reveal a shadowy, fog-ridden dawn, it struck me how programmed we all are, to crave the happily ever after.
I grew up immersed in stories, and as an adult, the stories never quite left, their seeds ingrained deep in my bones.
Because underneath the dancing eyes there lives this sense of possibility, lingering along every breath of Once upon a time.
And the once-upon-a-time’s do not cease happening, even as we grow old enough to re-believe in the magic.
Yet the difference, I’m realizing, between real life and the fantasy, is the simple yet desperately sought-after phrase And they lived happily ever after.
Why are we all in such a rush to end our lives?
Real life has not been lived. Real life is being lived.
Real life does not exist, period. Real life swells as a series of commas, semicolons, and dashes transforming small words into larger ones.
And real life has no happy ending. Real life has a continual flow of happy & sad, smiles & frowns, highs & lows, and all we can do is find a place in between the cold rush of water and the warm dance of sunlight, and float for a bit, until it is time to swim, again.
So for all you fellow chasers of the ending, I have an endeavor, for us to take on, together.
Rather than sit by the sidelines, waiting for the curtain to fall, why don’t you and I dance together, and allow the unsatisfying grain of questions to carry our feet in a new rhythmic way, not faster or slower, but just purely natural.
And when the night comes to a close, and we drift away to the safety of our dreams, we can rest assured that there we will not find an ending lived happily ever after, but rather the living, happily, ever after, and everything in between.
You will notice, if you pay close enough attention to the detail, that these stories we write here, well they are living, breathing, beasts of their own. Our tales take their own form, moving and changing along with the tides of current perspective.
No story can be read twice, with same exact eyes.
And each one ends with a simple phrase. And so, we all, live.
Happily ever after, in the most loosely flowing interpretation of the sentiment. For happy is as happy does. And happy stems from the eye of the beholder. And endings, well, they’re overrated, anyhow.
The beginning (& end), in one.