If Your Life Were A Book

"If your life were a book and you were its author, how would your story go?"

This was the opening line of Amy Purdy's TED Talk - Living Beyond Limits - and when I first heard it back at the start of last year I found myself having another of those lightbulb moments.

Since returning back to the UK I had been living under a cloud of uncertainty about which direction to head. Ever closer to 30, the unspoken pressure to begin settling down was facing off a more personal desire to continue satisfying my ever itchy feet.

Up to the point of hearing Amy's talk, I was torn. The pros and cons were both personal and compelling and whichever way I looked at it I was unable to make up my mind.

Cue the lightbulb. 

In a flash, the clouds of uncertainty began to break and the weight of my indecision did start to lift.

"If your life were a book and you were its author, how would your story go?"

I've thought about this question a lot. Like really, a lot. I've thought so much about it in fact, I feel like this book might even exist. What it looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like... my imagination has conjured up every last little detail. 
Red and leather-bound, despite still being written, its edges are worn and frayed
Upon opening the cover, my imagination can pass its fingers through nearly 30 years in just a few seconds before abruptly arriving at the present moment where the ink before it has barely yet dried. Whilst the pages preceding this moment are already browning with age, those ahead are still bright in white and poised with their potential.

In handling my life's book a few things have hit home. 

The past

The pages of the past, like history itself, cannot be rewritten. The ink has dried. And that's final. 

This said, although I might not have the power to rewrite history, I do have the power to decide how the events of my past are framed, put into context and allowed to shape my future. The ability I think to find a silver lining is the difference between writing a tragedy and writing a thriller.

The present

The shortest of moments, this is where life happens. 

The future

The future lacks certainty, not least the number of pages I might have left. Pushing 30, I might yet be only a 1/3rd of the way through. On the other hand, I could have unknowingly already started my last page. This leads quite naturally to the future's only certainty... that is that this story, my story, my being... it has an end. A very clear and distinct and unavoidable end.


But don't be sad, for this inevitable end is in fact a gift and is what what gives the present moment its true value. Don't be fooled though, time passes quickly and the present moment - this most precious of all times - is all but wasted when its spent either reliving the past or planning the future. And whilst I'd love to sit here and preach the fact I've mastered the fine art of living in the moment, the truth of the matter is I cannot.

In fact, for the past three years I've ignored the present and instead focused almost entirely on the future. I've been looking forward to 5 o'clock. Looking forward to the weekend. Looking forward to that night out. Looking forward to the next holiday. Looking forward to the Summer. Looking forward to meeting somebody. Looking forward to settling down. To buying a house. To having a family. To retiring. To... STOP. Just stop.

The perpetual countdown... A clear and unavoidable consequence of a life where the present moment just isn't all that.

So... where am I going with this? Well... if I am indeed the author of my story, I have, do I not, a duty. A duty to fill these pages as best as I possibly can, something which starts I think by reclaiming that present moment.

So for the final time, I ask myself, if my life were a book and I were its author, how would my story go?

The countdown would stop. The unrelenting focus on the future would end and instead my being be moved in to the present. And then here, in this moment, I would take my pen and begin to write a new story. A story of adventure and excitement. Love and compassion. A story so compelling and so exciting, it is one not only worth living, but also one worth sharing.

THIS is my story, THIS is the ginger revolution.

You can watch Amy Purdy's TED Talk in full by clicking here.

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