By Christy Gualtieri
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
― Alan Bennett, The History Boys
I’ve always loved reading. Ever since I was very little and I first learned to read, I could be found anywhere, reading anything that happened to be lying around and in arm’s reach. I loved the many popular book series of the day: Sweet Valley Twins (At the age of 11, I was too young to be allowed to read the Sweet Valley High series, although I had hidden the fact that I’d read many of them already from my mother), everything by Roald Dahl, and the Baby-Sitters Club.
One of my favorites, though, was the Choose Your Own Adventure series – a book that was unique in that you didn’t read it cover-to-cover; you chose what the character did as you went through, sometimes skipping whole chapters. I liked them because each book contained dozens of paths to get through the book, so it was like reading many different books in one. When I was done with one adventure, I’d just go back to chapter one and begin again with another path. I do admit that I would cheat here and there; if the book asked me to choose one path I’d hold the page I was on and look ahead; if I didn’t like it, I’d choose the other.
The Choose Your Own Adventure books are enjoying a bit of a comeback these days, and for good reason: everyone likes to feel in control of their own lives, even kids, and it’s fun to undergo an adventure with little risk involved (like I said, if you don’t like the adventure, you can just go back a chapter and pick a new one!). Sometimes it depresses me to know that when I’m going through a bit of a rough patch in my life, I can’t just “flip ahead” to the next chapter to see if I’ll make it through alright, to get that assurance that I’ll be able to get through different anxieties or worries that I feel or the difficult days that I have. On those days, I have to work a bit harder to remind myself that those days are part of the adventure too, even if it doesn’t seem like it; that spending hours sorting through my kids’ toys or running back to the grocery store twice in one day all plays a part in how my life is going to turn out, unglamorous as it can be.
But there are days when it’s all going well, and I don’t want to skip ahead! When I’m having a great weekend with my family or catching up with friends I haven’t seen in years, or I’m finally being productive with a creative project — and then here comes the cue on the bottom of the page that reminds me that there’s more to come.
I don’t know what it’ll look like, and sometimes that makes me nervous. I don’t know what your life is going to look like next either, but I invite you to choose your own adventure today! Choose to take the riskier path, have a little fun! I will try to do that same thing too.
Until next time, be well!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health.