“Life is a journey, not a destination” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was in seventh grade, my grandfather Bill said something to me that would change my life forever.

It was the summer I decided to read John Grisham’s, The Chamber. Hey, it was cool, it was huge, and most importantly it was adult. One day I was sitting on the couch reading and my grandfather asks, “So how does it end?” I looked at him totally confused. How would I know how it ended? I had just started. Chalking him up to crazy, I ignored him. Of course that only made him clear his throat and speak louder. “Jessy, how does it end?” This made me sigh a very adult sigh and look him dead in the eye. “I don’t know Pop-pop. I haven’t finished it yet.” (Knowing me I’m sure there was some attitude in my answer, but I don’t remember that part.) He looked at me with this all knowing gleam in his eye and said the words that would forever be ingrained in my brain. The words that would change the way I live my life even today.

“You should always read the last page of a book first. That way you know how it’s going to end. You see the best part of the book is not the ending. The best part is all the meat in the middle. If you don’t read the end first, you are always going to be disappointed with the result. When you read the result first, you learn the most from how the characters got there.”

Of course I looked at him like he was crazy and continued with my book, but you can bet the house I went and read the last page as soon as he was out of sight. Since then, that’s how I read EVERY book. While I would never say it to his face, he was right. So often the ending isn’t the best part. In fact, I can’t tell you the number of books I have read with the crappiest of endings, yet six months later I’m reading them again. Why? Because while the ending may piss me off or seem way too anticlimactic, the journey the characters take to get there is so compelling I can’t help but visit their world again and again.

Imagine if you could read the last page of everything. If you knew the ending of shows like Battlestar Galactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer would you have paid more attention to the foreshadowing and character developments in the final seasons? What about traveling? You buy a ticket to fly from Las Vegas to New Orleans. What that ticket doesn’t tell you is that you’re going to get stuck for twelve hours in Denver because of snow and meet a group of students on the same trip you took back in High School.

Or let’s even apply it to human life. We all know our last page will include death. The question then becomes, what will be written in the pages in between? What is your character development? Are you rich and full with the quest for knowledge and constant growth or are you just passing through life content to stay stagnant? Do you focus on the journey or is it all about the ending? Do you set goals those Big Hairy Audacious Goals or only those you know you can absolutely achieve?

My challenge to you is this. The next book you read, read the last page of the book first. You’ll be surprised how much more you pay attention to the journey.