By Doing Nothing

Many of my friends and a couple of my family members know that I recently read The End of Your Life Book Club. They also know that I can’t stop talking about it. Seriously, there are so many lessons and things to think about in this marvelous book that sometimes I have to work hard to put a lid on it, so to speak.

While sitting in Memorial Sloan Kettering’s hospital with his mother as she awaited chemotherapy, Will Schwalbe her a question they’d been tossing back and forth for as long as he could remember. “What are you reading?” That question led to the development of an unusual book club, one with only two members. For the next two years, mother and son read and discussed dozens of books, and I found myself hooked by this idea right away.  Not only did the pair discuss the tomes, but they also talked about the inherent lessons, the choices people made, and the books’ applications to their lives.

I jotted down the names of dozens of books that mother and son read, and the day I finished Schwalbe’s volume, I went to the local library and checked out Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach and James McBride’s The Color of Water. Then I downloaded Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary Tileston on my Kindle. It’s a wonderful book, and now that I’ve begun dipping into it every day, I can well understand why Mary Anne Scwalbe kept with her day and night. I also ordered Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. Can’t wait until it gets here.

I reviewed on Chesil Beach on Amazon and Goodreads, but since not everyone looks there, I want to share just a smidgen of those reviews here. Permeated with alternate themes of sadness and hope, On Chesil Beach was superbly written. Edward and Florence meet, fall in love, and marry. Although the tone of their story as told by McEwan foreshadows the book’s end, the last paragraph is thought provoking, haunting, and heartbreaking. The sentence that captures it all is, “This is how the entire course of a life can be changed—by doing nothing.”

I don’t want to give away the plot or tell you how the story ends. I just want you to think about that sentence. To me, it’s powerful. How many times have events in your life unfolded in a way contrary to what you truly desired because of something you left unsaid or undone? Do you think the course of your life might be totally different IF you had called someone’s name, sent a text, or made a phone call?

Isn’t it haunting to think  “what if?”

About jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer
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