A Book by the Toilet

The book on the counter was sectioned by a coupon bookmark.

The only words showing from the coupon advertised a discount headline, ‘Receive a Free…’ Not enough of the copy was revealed to answer what ‘Free’ item would be offered if I only opened the book to that page. What could it be? Maybe there would be some ‘buy one get-one’ at the store down the street with doors, or some code to be entered for one more promise lost in the shuffle of websites.

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There were many books stationed throughout the house to captivate any reader, but this one volume held a strategic advantage. It was placed by the one seat that holds the visitor captive. That toilet that keeps us placed and bonds our free will to get up and leave. Not like the soft cushion by the end table in the living room where another book rests with another bookmark stuck at a page where the bad guy is just about to get his twist of fate. Or, that book in the office with its platoon of sticky notes marking page upon page of affirmations to make me better, break a habit, or just get me to finish one task of the day. The book in the living room is marked with the family tree and an old church bulletin from 1960 something marks a scripture that meant something once. The thought was something about ‘my word will not go void, but will produce…’ something or other. Then, the book by the bed on the nightstand is a whole different story.

Each of these volumes had been marked for some reason to re-read some line or two. This edition from my favorite author lies face down with a coupon. Since there must be something important marked, I picked it up. Upon opening to the placement of the bookmark, I found nothing. The thing had been placed between two empty white pages. “Why would I do that?” I wondered.

This famous and favorite author had filled my imagination for years with countless metaphors. His plain speech had been colored with fanciful descriptions that on occasion would end up in sentences as long as paragraphs. The writer could hold me captive past colons and commas to the end of the page the way this damn toilet binds be in this seated position. With all of his symbols, analogies, similes, and comparisons, why would I mark a blank page with nothing to give? Is that emptiness a challenge for a writer with no audience to just keep writing? Do all the pages before that led to this blank empty space mean nothing as well? On earlier page he once wrote that time is hungry. There is much truth in the metaphor as time has eaten away many dreams and filled volumes with the ‘what if’ questions. The blank page became a beacon to turn the tables and begin the daily task to devour time instead.

The white of the blank paper began to burn into my retina. A bright light at the end of the tunnel of death as if a warning becomes clearer and clearer with years left behind and a future that has been revealed.

Pages before filled with things to do and places to go; finish school, get a job, get married, get a better job, make a sale, hit a quota, buy a stock, build a 401k, pay for this, pay for that, get that car, get that boat, get that house, color your hair, lose some weight…get a break. Pages and pages filled all leading up to this one empty blank space left that screams, “What’s next?”

The writer with no audience is stuck on a toilet.

How different is that from anyone else? Do all the things we believe are important end up with nothing more than a blank page? What is it we chase only to find out we were the ones being chased? The blank empty page is the very thing that pulls us into an unknown future. The fact that we do not know is the thing that drives us. This is easy when youth is on your side. That is the mystery, the cliff hanger, the reason to turn the page.