The best books are more than just a cover.
My heart is an open book. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl I saw a red leather volume of fairytales laying in the grass. I picked it up and held it up to my chest. I could feel my heart thumping against the cover. I carried that book with me everywhere I went. When I felt sad and like no one understood me I would open the hardcover bound volume to a page that was familiar to me. I breathed in the words with my eyes closed and remembered that I had my own story to tell and one day it would be read.
Despite my heart being open, it is hard for me to let other people read my book. There’s pain and secrets inside. I can’t help but think – what if he reads my book and hates what’s inside?
I am naturally an emotionally vulnerable and open person, yet to let another person inside feels invasive and painful. This is a paradox. It’s like a massage that hurts but yet feels good at the same time. I want desperately to be understood, but in order for that to happen, I have to let others open that book and read what’s inside. The prospect of another human being knowing my secrets and emotional vulnerability is scary yet comforting and I can’t seem to reconcile the two things.
I’ve opened my book to people in the past. In response they’ve ripped the pages, spit on them, crumpled them up and burned them in effigy. I don’t know that I’m willing to take that chance again. But, what is the alternative? I’m not someone who can walk around with a shut book and subsequently a closed heart.
I’m careful with other people’s books. I gently touch the covers and take care when reading their stories. I wouldn’t intentionally destroy their stories. Yet, it’s human nature to hurt people. I’m sure I’ve skimmed the pages of other people’s stories and not taken care to understand them.
I’m sick of my stories at this point. I don’t want to read my book anymore. I’ve been reading it for over three decades and I know all the stories and how they end. The pages are worn and old and yellow and I don’t want to care about them but I do. I want to open someone else’s book and learn about them. I want to see their secrets and be privy to their pain. I want to know that person inside and out, just like I know my book. But I’ll never get tired of his book. I’ll put it away in a safe place where no one can find it. It will be loved and I will read pages of it each night. I won’t ever take that book for granted…or at least I’ll try not to.
We are our stories and our pain. We are our joy and our triumphs and I want to know what is in your book. I can’t get close to you if you don’t let me see inside of it. So will you…will you open yourself up to me? Because I’ve shown you my pain, I’ve shown you my scar, and yet I’ve only seen your cover. I’m waiting for you to open for me.
Photo: darwin Bell/Flickr