I’m in a book hangover. I love it.
For those of you who have never been fortunate – yes, fortunate – to have experienced one yet, let me explain.
A book hangover overwhelms you. It’s when, after – and arguably during – reading a particular book, you get so engrossed in what you’re reading that the essence of the book surrounds you. It’s like being in that book’s bubble or fleece throw or…like that books lens. It’s a warm glow. You think about the book …its words, it’s essence….its ideas. How it made you think and feel.
I’ve read many, many books in my life. Only a small handful have made me feel this way.
I started, and finished, the book within 12 hours including some sleep. I started it last night, read 3/4 before forcing myself to switch off the light at 2am and then finished it this morning.
The book, ‘After you’ by Jo Jo Moyes, just gripped me. It’s a sequel to ‘Me, before you’. That also gave me a book hangover. I’ve had ‘After you’ for 18 months. I started it but wasn’t ready – its themes too painful.
‘After you’ is a fictional book about living life, starting life again after bereavement. It’s a love story, a life story. It’s not a self help book or a work of literary heritage. But it moved me to the core. It may not for you – and that, that is the beauty of reading.
I’ve read a lot recently – since finishing my job. That’s one of the biggest ironies of life- as a full time English teacher, I never have the time to read normally. Sad, isn’t it?
I’ve read lots of trashy novels of late – Shades of Grey and others. Sometimes that’s what I want to escape into – stories of passion, strong men and strong but feminine women. It’s not the sex, although there’s nothing wrong with a sexy scene, but I actually like these books. I like reading about how in even romantic fiction, relationships are messed up by people’s pasts, insecurities and jealousy.
And so, here I am. Back in my multicoloured garden, shrouded by my book hangover… which has deliciously merged with other thoughts and events in my head to find those amazing coincidences in life which make you sit up and listen to what the world is trying to tell you.
Life is meant to go wrong.
It really is. Read that again, let it sink in. Life going wrong, is actually right. It’s what is meant to happen. Every wrong turn, bump in the road, false start, stall, breakdown, cruise control, speed chase….all of it is part and parcel of a normal life.
Often, events on the road of your life happen without you. You don’t cause them or instigate them, but they happen anyway. Sometimes, a seemingly wrong decision- or indecision- causes them. I don’t know what’s worse in that case. But it’s what we do after that matters. What we learn, how we pick ourselves up…it doesn’t matter how long that takes. It doesn’t matter if we limp or crawl, jog or sprint. It’s just the moving again that matters. Because not moving, is not living. And we have to live to feel alive.
So, after a false start at my new school, today is my last official day there. I’ve spent it so far, finishing a wonderful book and then sitting in my garden with a coffee.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve left my job again. It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent 18 months feeling lost. What matters, now, is what I do after. How I move forward. How I keep going.
The path, road, I’ve been on doesn’t disappear as I move forward. If I turn around and look – something I’ve been doing far too much of – its still there. Every obstacle and every clear road is there for me to see. They’ve shaped me, in a way. But it’s more than that. I’ve shaped myself. I’ve had to adapt to each and every deviation. I’ve had to overcome it all, one way or another. And I have. I have.
I’ve moved very, very slowly for some time now. But that’s the thing, when you’re moving. You can look out the car window and not have any idea what speed you’re actually going at. The world passes you by at seemingly the same speed regardless of how fast you’re actually going.
And that’s how life is, isn’t it? Time passes regardless. Every moment is a before and a now and an after. The trick is to hold on all at the same time and keep moving. Looking only backwards slows you. Staying in the now stalls you. Looking only forward scares you or makes you race without seeing what’s going on around you. Hold on to all three and just keep moving…moving towards your happily ever after.