Book Life

Like a book, life can be divided into chapters.  This is perhaps an instance of art following reality, or perhaps it’s the other way around.  The episodic nature of life suggests the chapter structure of books.  As I was waking up this morning (disappointingly before 4:00 a.m.) I was reflecting on the chapters of my life.  As with a book, the most recently read decade is perhaps freshest in one’s mind, but the decades do seem to fall roughly into format.  We tend to think of that first decade—childhood—fondly, even if in reality it wasn’t all games and candy.  It’s biology’s way of encouraging us toward that weird teen chapter of puberty with its intense emotions and maturing bodies.  That chapter is recalled, at least in my experience, as a turmoil involving both good and bad.

The twenties, in my book, were spent in higher education.  It was a cerebral chapter.  Finishing college and starting grad school.  Finishing a masters and discovering employment difficult to find with a master’s degree.  In my book marriage was in the twenties chapter, along with a doctorate.  The next chapter, the thirties, was spent entirely at Nashotah House.  That involved becoming a father as well as a professor.  The other faculty were fathers of a different sort.  I always thought chapters should show some continuity but the forties chapter was that part of the book known as the crisis.  The upending of convention.  The self-reinvention.  The move.  I suppose in terms of a novel that was when it started to get really interesting, but from my perspective life had been plenty interesting enough by that point.

The fifties have been a bit more settled.  The publishing chapter.  The house-buying move added drama, of course, but otherwise the nine-to-five is like a mind-numbing drug.  Mine involved a commute that lead to its own unpublished book, as well as two somewhat academic  tomes.  All of this was going through my head the way thoughts do when you can’t force yourself back to sleep.  The paradigm suggests itself to someone who has, in one form or another, been writing for his entire life.  Or writing his life.  My first attempts at being a novelist began in chapter two.  On yellowed paper somewhere in the attic I still have that first handwritten attempt at literary expression.  The current chapter has me becoming a gruncle (with a nod to Gravity Falls fans) and wondering how a great niece might read a book written like this.  If she will even have an interest.  That’s the way of books, as any librarian knows.  Maybe some warm milk and a cookie are indicated.

Life is a book.

3 thoughts on “Book Life

  1. Jeremiah Andrews

    Hi Steve,
    My decades are a bit different. Thinking about it now. Early childhood is dictated by the houses we lived in, in succession. We hit the family home when I was midway through sixth grade, which lasted until I left home at twenty one. My twenties were split, 21-26, 26-34,34-51. Each section began with a certain story, culminating in major catastrophes. the chapter I am still writing began at 34, when I got sober the second time. Seventeen years later, I’m still writing.

    Amid the 34-51 section saw me in University and two degrees later. Several things took place in this block that were life changing and affirming.

    However, I do have a prepared manuscript that is quite ready for a publisher. I worked on it for more than three years now. But I’m not sure I want to publish it. It was more a searching and fearless family inventory of lies, secrets and truths. I’ve been writing for a long time as well.

    I am nostalgic about certain things from the past, and often, I lament that the life I thought I wanted in my twenties never came to pass, and I got the life I was supposed to have, now. Sometimes I kind of feel gypped, that I got sold a false bill of goods. At one point I was promised a certain life, if I achieved certain benchmarks. That happened several times, none of them paying off at all.

    When I got coupled, that was a whole other ball of wax. Then marriage came, and everything changed. i had to accept what I got and made that work. And it was WORK for sure. My book is kind of strange, in a way. My chapters are filled with all kinds of things, that I’ve collected on my blog over the years.

    When I started my blog, it was to catalogue my memories, in the event, that with my illness, would one day rob me of them. So I wrote as many down as I could remember as they came to me. So that I had a record of what really happened, in those moments.

    I’m not mad at the life I have, because twenty five years later, after major life illness, I am still alive. And I have a life, I never imagined would have been possible. I mean, really, if someone from the future had visited me in the past, and told me of the life I have today, before I got there, I probably would have laughed him in the face for sure.

    Life is funny. I know all those things that make a house work, and how much work it is for upkeep and maintenance. Loosing our family home to a hurricane was devastating. And learning just what it really took to rebuild it from the ground up was daunting. In the end it was a success, seeing what we went through to rebuild. Hang in there.

    If you need perspective, mow the grass.

    I know we don’t mow the grass in the winter. so then you get to go there mentally.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Wise words, Jeremy! A close member of my family is also a recovering addict. (He’s also working on a book about his experience.) The advice he gives me is similar to yours. I appreciate it—experience speaks loudly, and comparing chapters with others makes this a very interesting story.



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