Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reading Ahead

Pretty Much Unrelated (except that she is reading)
Photo I Took in Wutai Shan China
I've been on some amazing journeys in my life, and great adventures, many of which were filled with experiences I never could have anticipated (like the trip to China I took nearly a decade ago when I snapped this photo of a Buddhist nun). It is a great way to experience life, in the moment, and I strive to be present in that way. But I have to admit that my natural tendency is to look ahead and try to be prepared for what might happen. It's just the way I am. I try to live in the present (it takes vigilance) and I know it doesn't make sense trying to predict and control the future...but I seem to be hard-wired that way.

I had an "a-ha" moment about this tendency a few evenings ago, that this need to predict apparently extends to how I read books and watch movies. I never really thought about that before.

I had just finished a novel and my husband asked how I liked it. I told him I thought it was good, but that of all the things I imagined in my mind would happen in the book, some did, but most did not. And for once, I thought the plot twists I imagined would have been better than what was actually written. And then I asked him if that ever happened to him when reading a book.

Well, basically he answered by saying that isn't how he reads books. He just reads them--and lets the story unfold without trying to predict the outcome. He said that he prefers to immerse himself in the narrative and let it flow over him rather than attempting to clinically dissect it as an external observer. If something doesn't make sense right away, that's okay, because if it's important, it will eventually.

Really? That was the "a-ha" for me. Not every one tries to figure things out ahead of time. I can barely fathom it.

So now I am curious. When reading a book, watching a movie, do you try to predict what will happen, or do you go with the flow?


  1. I read lots of thrillers and cannot bear the suspense so I peek ahead to reassure myself even though I know the good guy prevails in 99% of cases. I attribute this to being a 7 on the enneagram and needing happy endings.

  2. Cabinwoman - does the peeking ahead diminish the experience for you?

  3. Peeking would ruin it for me. So would guessing. I like going with the flow (such a relief from trying to figure things out in life!)...

    PS Love the photo!