One of the great things about my friendship with Kaarina Dillabough is that we are not the types of friends who talk about what we did yesterday and which is better given the choice of chicken salad or tuna salad. No, we skip right past the “Hi how are ya” and delve into trivial things like how the universe got started and what is the difference between a friendship and an acquaintance. No small talk for us!
Recently we had a conversation about books, which seems simple enough. I was debating whether or not to invest time in reading a book that I thought would be good even though it was by an author whom I do not admire. Kaarina said I could always start reading and if I don’t like it, I could just close the book and move on.
“Oh no, not me,” I said. “I always keep reading to the end. I always think the book will get better.”
Then I realized my approach to books is exactly the same as my approach to people, or at least the same as my approach has been for years upon years. I tend to find myself in bad situations with people, and friends and family warn me that I am in a bad situation, but for some reason I keep sticking it out. I keep thinking the relationship will get better. I keep believing the person will change.
I’ll never know if Kaarina led me to this realization on purpose or not, but my bet is she probably did. She’s smart like that. She said that life is too short to spend time immersed in a book you aren’t enjoying. Similarly, life is too short to stay immersed in a relationship that is bad for you. Closing the book does not mean you have to burn the book. Leaving the relationship does not mean you have to hate the person. It can be as simple as pressing the covers together and saying, “This just isn’t for me.”
The author of the book, if you know him or her, may press you. “Why don’t you like it?” They may ask. A person whom you decide to exit from may also ask questions. They may not see how they are a bad match for you. You can be as blunt or as gentle as you wish. Normally getting into a conversation like that will only result in hurt on both sides, however. Sometimes it is better just to quietly slip the book on its shelf. Sometimes it is better just to quietly drift away over a period of time. It is not necessarily the kind of “instant gratification” closure for which we all lust, but it can be enough.
Do you have trouble closing books?
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