September 29, 2010

Open Book

Do you ever find your self distracted by a simple phrase or maybe even just a word or two while reading? You find that you have read two pages without being cognizant because your mind wandered off with thoughts inspired by the words.

I must confess, for someone who meditates and preaches the practice of "awareness" my mind is predictably unpredictable! (Makes sense to me, so deal with it!)

This morning one of the characters in the book I am reading used the phrase "open book". Without benefit of a count down  my mind blasted off to the ethers.

"Open Book."  What is an open book? Who is an Open Book?  My mother insists that my brother, sister and I are open books and she isn't smiling when she says it!

I don't agree with her a hundred percent. I would suggest that if the three of us could be referred to as books, we would be books resting gently at eye level; not on a high precipice nor buried deep in a cabinet, but books easily within reach. If you open it and read a little, or as you pick up one of the little volumes and it falls open to any page that inspires a question, we are pretty forthcoming with an answer. Not because we are anxious to share all the bits and pieces but that, to us, the bits and pieces are just that....bits and pieces. Individual bits and pieces do not define us. Though there are people who have let this 'bit" or that "piece" from their past or maybe their family's history define who they are or who they have become.

What if you are an "open book"? Should one be more protective of those moments of thier lives when maybe they made mistakes or got too close to the edge? What's the use of those experiences if they can't be used to teach or inform? Should one feel guilty because they don't guard the story more tightly?

What about those who not only don't open the book but keep the tome shut and locked away in a cellar of personal memory, locked up tight? Warning: don't even think about asking!

A dear friend, a long time ago, had a pat answer for any questions that he thought were inappropriate.

"Why do you want to know?" he would ask the curious.

 Whatever their response was, he always answered, "Well, that's not reason enough!"

He wasn't really a private person, he just didn't want to feed morbid curiousity. (Was he thinking, "Inquiring minds should get a life!") I have actually been known to use the same trick but not to keep things private but just to see if I could actually get away with it!

What we share and don't share of our own lives and thoughts and actions should be a personal choice,  shouldn't it? If I choose to be an open book one week and keep the book closed the next, isn't it my decision?

Someone else may choose to put a lock and key on the book and stand beside it with a loaded gun in case you get too close. My advice to you would be that if you see someone standing next to a dusty book with a cocked pistol in hand you should keep your questions simple; "Would you like tea or coffee, how about a little sugar?"

What about those of us who have the book open to just one page. That page and no other. What has become of the story before that page and what of the story since that page? Another man I knew a long time ago who was an awesome, winning high school quarterback let that short page in his book define his story forevermore. He believed he never was that great since then, he never saw the love and admiration in his children's eyes nor that of his wife because he only heard the echo of days gone by and believed himself to be a has-been, sadly living in the shadow of yesterday's glory. What of those who choose only to dart in and out of the darkness of yesterday's tragedy or trespass. Afraid to love, afraid to live, afraid to turn the page and read how life did, truly, go on.

What is the state of your book? Is it open, can you turn your pages freely and read what was and look forward to what is coming? If you are protective of it has the "protecting" of it become more important than the "living" of it? Can you honor the choices of others to keep their books in whatever state they have choose?

In my humble opinion, it is a choice we all make. Free will, after all, was God's idea. It is not for me to insist we all open those books, or share just this page or that or slam them shut. It is, though, again I say humbly, that we should be aware of the choice we made and own it, be conscious of it.

Is your book open? Did you decide to stick with one page? Is it under lock and key? Are you the author or are you letting someone else write your book?

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