Sunday, September 20

#38 - the reverse diary

You are browsing the shelves and aisles of your local library when you are startled at the sight of your own name running along one of the book bindings. Taking the book in question from the shelf, you see it that your name is indeed the title, with the author listed as "various". It is a large book.

You turn to the table of contents and see chapter headings such as CHARACTER QUALITIES, FUNNIEST MOMENTS, and SHORTCOMINGS. Quickly flipping to a spot in the middle of the book, you see a quote from a friend about a fairly meaningful event involving the two of you.

You shut the book to collect your thoughts. You have no idea how it came to exist, but from what you can make out, it seems that this is a collection of thoughts about yourself from those who know you best. Good, bad, affirming, and brutally honest opinions populate this volume's pages.

As you are in a library, with no other pressing engagements, you are free to pull up a chair and read (for the couple of hours the library is still open). A quick check of the back cover reveals a bar code sticker, so checking the book out also appears to be an option. What do you do with this book? Are there any chapters you would look for, any sections you would avoid?


Stephanie said...

love this! I would absolutely check it out, head to $tarbucks or somewhere and read from beginning to end.

I'd first check the dedication page and see who wrote it as well as when it was written. Then I'd check the back and see if there were any special pages. Then I'd browse the table of contents, skip the introduction and jump into chapter 1. I'd probably stay up all night finishing it.

I'm not sure what this reveals about me, but I don't care. :D

Mike said...

Yes, I too would check it out and read the whole thing, cover to cover.

Honestly, I'm not sure if I would actually survive it. But I just would have to know.

I think too, it would be easier to read in a book than to receive it directly from the person. Like, it would allow me to process what I am hearing and not have to respond immediately (or ever). But then again, if there was something I would want to respond to, it would be an awkward conversation...

"I know you think X about me. How dare you?"
"How did you find that out???"
"Well, I was browsing the shelves and aisles of my local library when I was startled at the sight of my own name..."


JOYCE said...

i'd buy it and read it, and probably keep it forever despite some of the more painful, shameful entries. i'd probably re-read funniest moments over and over again, hopefully this would include stories w/ friends. i'd be interested in rereading shortcomings and reflecting on whether or not i've changed.

man.. now i wish something like this existed! i like to know about me. :P

Matt said...

Thanks to (I think) Joyce for the basic idea behind this one.

Seeing this book would make me so curious, and though I would probably read it all, I'm not sure how helpful it would be for me to come across chapters like SHORTCOMINGS or HOW MATT DISAPPOINTED OTHERS. There would also be that added complication of these recorded thoughts coming from the perceptions of others.

I think in the end I would be too tempted and would read little bits at a time in multiple visits to the library, until I had finished.

Maybe I would check it out and never return it. Pay the fine to keep it away from prying eyes.

Daniel said...

I'm kind of struck by the similarity of this scenario to that scene from the Chronicles of Narnia (Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I believe), where one of the kids sees her friends talking about her via some magical means, and gets really angry, only to receive a firm talking-to from Aslan.
So I would have to say that I would probably be severely tempted to read the book, but I don't know whether I should or not. It might end up just filling me with a bunch of negative feelings towards various people, or a false sense of pride; neither of which are productive or Godly. It's not our place to judge others or ourselves based on what people think of us.
Nevertheless, I would really really want to read it...

Also, I doubt anybody will see this comment, since I posted it way late, but I was just catching up with all the old posts.

Paul said...

Oh Geez. This is too much. I'd love to know how my funeral goes, but

1) I don't care what people's opinions are of me

2) I would probably be bothered by all the powerful emotions these comments would no doubt stir

3) I'd be tempted to follow another person's path if I heard what they thought of mine

This would be so intoxicating, I need to wise up and know my limits. Here's what I propose to me: as Matt's post suggests we could do, I'll check it out, pay the fines and never return. I'll put it in my safety deposit box, and make a date to open it, like a time capsule. God willing I'll live to that date - it will be April 1, 1957. April fools day, my 75th year of life. At that point most of my mistakes will have been made and victories won already. I'll read to see how other people's thoughts might've predicted/influenced my life, and if I find some good stuff, I'll teach it to my grandkids.

But a raw reading just for me would be too powerful a drug. I abstain.

Heavy one. Very thought provoking.

Paul said...

er, that date would be April 1 2057. In 1957 I was just a 'to do' on the calendar in Heaven.