I recently read a book that had been on my Amazon wishlist for some time. I stumbled across a copy at my parents’ house and asked my mom if I could borrow it, to which she replied yes, but in a tone that implied she wondered why I would want to. (In other words, she hadn’t liked the book that much.)
As I made my way into the book, I found myself really into it! I was invested in the characters and intrigued by the plot. It was unique and the characters seemed like people I might encounter in real life at some point. I talked to my mom on the phone and expressed that I was surprised she hadn’t enjoyed the book more.
But then I got to the end, and I understood. It wasn’t that it was bad. I can’t even pinpoint exactly what I didn’t love about the ending. But the book in sum total was not as enjoyable to me as the middle.
And I thought, what a metaphor for life.
I often find that I’m living in anticipation of the next thing. I’m planning for a trip, or wondering what my career might look like, or thinking about what’s for dinner next Tuesday. None of that is bad: I wouldn’t be who I am if I weren’t a planner, and Andy and I wouldn’t eat such good meals if I didn’t think about them in advance. But by letting myself be preoccupied with what’s coming, maybe I miss some of what’s happening. By constantly looking to the end, maybe I miss the enjoyment of the middle.
So I’m taking my experience with the book to heart. I can love the middle, and it doesn’t matter what the end looks like. If I get to the end and it’s not that great, it doesn’t cheapen my experience of joy in the middle.
Just live in the middle, and love it.