Getting Serious About the Countdown
It occurred to me that if I’m serious about ending it all in a few years, I should find a countdown clock for this blog, and start some backwards planning to make sure I’m as ready as possible.
What would you do if you knew the rough “when” of your own demise? Obviously, I need to write a will, pay off my debts, get the house repaired, plan the right time to quit my job, and perform thousands of other tasks before checkout day. Planning all of that should be mildly entertaining.
On my kiddie lit mailing list, I first learned about Vlogbrothers on YouTube. Because of that, I’ve subscribed to their channel and I read John Green’s blog. I recommend both. But it occurred to me this week, when I finished Octavian Nothing Part I that it was John’s fault that I read it. He said “Octavian Nothing 2 is the best book of the year.” So I read the first Octavian Nothing book, which I hated passionately–so much so that I actually returned Octavian Nothing 2 to the public library unread. I couldn’t bear the thought of reading another tedious, though brilliant book. To me, the first book was an intellectual exercise in reading stamina.
I felt briefly guilty about this, the guilt felt by librarians and book readers who feel compelled to give every substantial book a fair trial, but then I thought, “Why, when I’m planning to check out in 3 more years, should I spend any of those hours reading the sequel to a book I hated?”
I read a lot of books I dislike to make other people happy. Currently, I’m reading The Maltese Falcon because the local public librarian wants me to read a chapter to be broadcast on the local radio station as part of The Big Read.
I recently returned The Inner Game of Music to my friend. I skimmed it, but it was familiar because before he was born, I read The Inner Game of Tennis.
Then there are the books I purchase and never read: Freakonomics, unread after the stupid abortion/crime argument which they seemed to think was real–sociology is such crap; The World Without Us which doesn’t mention nuclear power plants until too far in and seems to think that invasives are okay; The World is Flat or maybe it’s Thomas Friedman’s argument that’s flat. Why do I keep doing that? Buying books I’ll never finish, then holding onto them just in case I change my mind?
Back to John Green. Because I like him, I read Looking for Alaska, a book which made me claustrophobic from all the cigarette smoking. Because of him, I listened to his brother Hank’s Helen Hunt song on YouTube. Because I loved his novel Paper Towns which frequently refers to Leaves of Grass, I copied Leaves of Grass from Project Gutenberg, once again finding myself incapable of reading it beyond this point: ” Come, said my soul/Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)/ That should I after return,/Or, long, long hence, in other spheres,/There to some group of mates the chants resuming,/(Tallying Earth’s soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,)/Ever with pleas’d smile I may keep on,/Ever and ever yet the verses owning–as, first, I here and now/Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name,/Walt Whitman.”
If I tried to read that entire poem, I feel confident I’d slit my throat in dismay long before my planned future death.
With the end in site, I think this is a good attitude–stop reading books if I hate them no matter how much it might disappoint the person (or, in John Green’s case, not affect him at all). I really only like non-fiction and science fiction. So there.