Learning Something New

My birthday is coming up and every time I think about it, I’m shocked by which one it is. I don’t feel as if I could possibly have been alive that long. Sure, I have a few more aches and pains than I used to, but nothing major, nothing that stops me doing the things I want to do. (My knees won’t let me run, but I don’t really want to, so that doesn’t count.)

I think one of the reasons I don’t feel my age is that I keep learning new things. Learning is such a part of being young that continuing it keeps you feeling young. Or at least that’s my theory. (I believe there’s some evidence that continuing to challenge yourself mentally might stave off dementia, but don’t quote me on that.)

Some of what I learn comes from books — actually, it’s fair to say most of it comes from books; it’s one of the reasons I love to read — but some of it comes from observation and insight. One thing I learned this week is that I don’t like books that open with the protagonist in terrible jeopardy. Trouble, yes; there’s a reason writers are told to start where the trouble starts. But not terrible jeopardy.

I’m not sure why I don’t like it. It might be that I expect things to get worse, and if we’re already at really bad, well, then horrible and depressing seems to be the only place we can go. Oddly enough, I realized this when opening a romance, a genre that promises a happy ending. Even with that safety net, I didn’t want to go through the terrible darkness I was sure filled the middle of the book.

It might also be that the emotional demand a gripping and dark story would make on me scared me off. I have a lot on my emotional plate, as I try to balance any number of things, and it’s possible I realized I don’t have the emotional energy for a story like that.

Whatever the reason, whatever the result, it’s still something I learned this week.


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