The Power of Saying No…. and Yes

The Power of No

After taking my mom out for errands and eating lunch at home, I decided to pack up and head to Long Beach for the afternoon. I put up my umbrella and spent a couple of hours re-reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I’m a huge fan of fantasy stories, especially ones involving heroic children. Pullman weaves a thick plot with delicious prose.

I chose to bring this book with me for something light to enjoy as I listened to the waves crashing on the shore. I have been ignoring The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon for over a week. I read the introduction and first couple of chapters. He realistically portrays what a major depressive episode feels like in such gripping detail. I have had moderate depression at times, and I found myself emotionally and physically identifying with each episode. By the time I closed the book, I felt as if my chronic body pain had gotten worse.

I turned around and binge-read two of my favorite manga series, Magic Touch by Izume Tsubaki and High School Debut by Kazune Kawahara. I needed desperately to counteract the pain and suffering I ingested by overdosing on innocent Japanese high school romance stories. I then read The Ghost of My Father by Scott Berkun. I kept eyeing Solomon’s novel as I debated whether or not to pick it up again.

On my way home from the beach, I decided that I would not continue with Solomon’s book. The book is several hundred pages long, and I could barely get through 100 without being in pain. Why continue? I really do not like to give up on a book. I have done it a handful of times, twice with books by David Foster Wallace and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I really wanted to like these authors and their stories, but I could not. I reluctantly gave them up.

And it with reluctance that I made the decision, but I felt so much better afterwards. I am not in a classroom. I do not have a test coming up for which I must read this book. I am not doing my psychology thesis where I need this book as one of the resources that I use. As an adult, we get to choose how we spend our time. And I decided not to spend my time continuing to read a book that began to make me physically ill. One day, if I am ever in significantly less pain and I am still interested, I may go back and read it. That time, unfortunately, is not the present day.

The Power of Yes

Before I left, I had been thinking how I wished I lived much, much closer to the beach. My hometown is nice enough for a suburban, residential neighborhood, but it really isn’t my style. I am only here to be close to my elderly mother who has lived in this two-family home since 1963.

To get home by the best route possible, I used Google Maps. The route it gave me was the route I used to take, until it showed me an alternate route through Oceanside and into Long Beach. I greatly prefer the newer route, and I was bummed that it wasn’t the faster route.

As I passed through a long stretch of road before getting onto the Southern State Parkway, I thought how much I did not like the route, and then I caught myself: I cannot afford to be thinking how I don’t like where I am or what route I am driving. I need to enjoy my life as it is in the here and now. I noticed the canopy of dark leaves from the thick stretch of trees that lined the road. The beauty of it made me smile, and then I was back on the road again in more ways than one.

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