(Exactly 2 months to the day from now…the Boston Marathon.)

Think way back to the last time you worked out.  For me, it seems like forever ago even though it was at 5:30 this morning.  It feels so long ago to me because it wasn’t one of my best performances.  I was excruciatingly tired and still sore from lifting so much on Tuesday morning.  The compounding affect was definitely taking a toll.  But I went anyway, and once I got there all it took was a little Kickstart My Heart to kick start the rest of me.

I like that when situations go badly – or at least, not as well as they normally do – that the pain seems longer ago than it actually was.  Our brains have a way of protecting, of putting everything into proper perspective.

Think way back to your early dating career, for example.  Things seemed to be going well and then suddenly, inexplicably your date blurted something – probably something trivial like, “I’ve always wanted to go to Italy too!  But I get sea sick and I’ve seen those gorgonzola boats in the Venetian,” something that you knew you could never un-hear.  Of course, you were still going to try and make the most of the evening (as in, forcing yourself not to get up and walk home), but you knew there was now no other end game.  Some things cannot be overlooked.  Conversely, think about a different, happier outcome with someone else whereby you got to the fourth or fifth date in a row, or dare I say, even the second or third month, and despite that much time together, that much exposure and change to your prior life, there were no colossal blunders, no gaffes, no violations of your world view.  A relationship beckoned…

It seems so long ago to me (even though it was last week) when I finished one of my now all-time favorite fiction books.  I was immediately captivated; couldn’t wait to pick it up again so as to find out more about all the intricacies and complexities; and laughed, oh how I laughed, literally howling at certain excerpts, throughout the entire read.  And then – at the final close, when it was all said and done, I cried.  The beautifully woven plot and its characters with such a deep love for one another in a totally nonplussed situation came to an end. 

So I cried some more.

And then, as I gazed up at some of the other books on the shelf which I’ve read in the past, I realized that they made me cry too, but for completely different reasons.

One book, had way too many pages and thus took way too long to read.  Tears over wasted time.

Another was so poorly written and constructed that I couldn’t get past the first page.  Tears over “why did I even buy this thing?”

And yet another book had no substance, no plot, no direction, and no foundation.  The characters were boring, had no spark or connection, and I don’t remember laughing once throughout.  Tears over a bad pick.

You just know, unquestionably, unequivocally know when a book was a good one when there are no regrets for reading it in the first place.  You know when you remember everything that happened, in chronological order, and what the characters must have been feeling during those times.  You know when you’re in the first chapter and you are already looking ahead to the protagonist’s future together.  You know when you get to the climax and there’s the proverbial fork in the road and the characters are at a stand still.  You know when you open to your inspirational-themed bookmark and you’re tempted to read ahead to find out where they end up, but you don’t, for fear of somehow changing the author’s intent and ruining it altogether.

But mostly you can be certain when, every time you see that book on your bookshelf, you long to pick it up and read it all over again.  From the very beginning.