where the writers are
Backward First
bibliomaniac
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

I read magazines backward because I like knowing where I’ve been before I get to where I’m going.  Of course, I’d like this in life, too, but since that is unobtainable, I am resigned to finding it only in my reading.

I also read the ends of books when the middle gets too scary—will the character live?  Simply flash to the end and see if his or her name appears.  This technique can mislead—think of the last Harry Potter and the name Dumbledore—but, for the most part, it’s a comforting cheat, one that allows me to relax in the crazy middle without too much anxiety.

If I had magic, I would allow myself these forays into the future, if only to help me chill out.  I am not meditator, a practice I’ve practiced without much success.  With a Zen beginner’s mind, I’d attempted to stay in the now, but since the now is so short, I find myself a good 50 minutes ahead no matter what I’m doing.  If I’m driving, I can be dead and reborn by the time I get home.  If I’m on an airplane flight, I’ve been reincarnated about twenty times, each life slightly more puzzling than the one before it.

Right now, for instance, I’m probably a good fifteen minutes ahead of what I’m writing.  In fact, I think I’ve already posted this on the blog site and gone in and had a bowl of cereal.

Staying in the present is like pulling constantly on a thick rope.  Back, back, back.  Stay, stay, stay.  As a person with a penchant for to-do lists, staying and being are the hardest things of all.  I know it’s best.  I know the now is the only time we have.  I know that now is the end all as there may not be the next 15 minutes at all.  Sudden death, fire, bomb, hurricane, earthquake.  It could all be gone before I get there.

So back to the magazine.  How comforting to start at the end, flipping into what I can go forward with later.  I see it.  I understand it.  And then I can move through the already flipped pages, being more careful, but so much more relaxed.

Jessica