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“I always read the last page of a book first, so that if I die before I finish, I’ll know how it turned out.” Nora Ephron

There is only one book that I want to know the ending to in advance, and that’s the Bible. I am glad that I know we win, and Satan loses. But to know the ending to any other story is to lose much of the excitement of the tale.

This is true in life also. If we knew the ending, we might not be motivated to continue. What if we knew who won every contest in advance? No one would ever compete. What if we knew the moment of our death? It sounds good at first, but I suspect it would take a great deal of the joy out of daily living, knowing that time was running out, or even that it wasn’t. It’s the not knowing that makes life an adventure to be lived in moments, not years.

Knowing the ending makes the middle far less exciting.  In wondering every day if we’ll find love, or experience loss, we start from a different perspective, than if we already know the outcome. It’s like already having the answers to a test, and then having to figure out the questions. (Not nearly as much fun.)

It’s the urgency of life that spurs us on toward our goals. And in our youth, it is the feeling of being indestructible, that allows us to take risks that sometimes enhance our lives. For to be too cautious, is to lose our free spirit.

As we grow older, it’s thinking that we still have time left that gives us hope, and makes us persist toward our unrealized dreams. Many discoveries would never occur if we knew there was little time left. We would simply give up on living. But being aware of our own mortality is a great motivator also. (But it’s counter-intuitive to know the approximate date, place, or time.)

Often, if a person is told they are dying, they will die very quickly. But if they’re not told, they will often live far past the predicited time of death. I believe that’s because there is a resignation when you know you have a terminal disease, and your expectation is to die. But if you don’t know you’re dying, you can hang onto hope. And sometimes hope can bring miracles, when it turns into faith. (And sometimes it can’t. But what have you got to lose by hanging onto hope?) You have everything to lose by giving up.

If you knew the sad ending to a love relationship, perhaps you would never chance it. But then you would have missed all the goodness that it brought into your life–all the happiness, and fulfillment. Surely there was sorrow also, but would you want to have missed the joy?

Our Creator knew that life had to be open-ended, and that man does best, when he does not know the ending.  Suspense and surprise is what makes life grand. Knowing the ending just ruins the book for most people. And this is as it should be. For we would always avoid pain, if given the opportunity. But in so doing, we would also miss the pleasure of the dance…

(There’s some interesting information about the rodeo rider in The Dance, Lane Frost, that can be found here):

Please see other articles that I have written here:


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