Have you ever read “The Count of Monte Cristo?”
If not, I highly recommend you do so because it is an absolutely amazing adventure story. Many say the best one ever written!
There is even a Great Illustrated Classics version which you could finish in about 45 minutes if you wanted a quick read. With that very shortened account, you would still get the page-turning pleasure of a great story and the deep feel of betrayal and desire for revenge that the main character wrestles with. Or if you wanted something more comprehensive, but just didn’t feel up to reading 1000+ pages, there are versions between 400 and 900 pages that you could bury yourself in and still enjoy thoroughly.
Whatever level of depth you desired to acquaint yourself with this wonderful work of literature, there is some version/translation out there to meet your intention. If it would be perfectly fine for you to only read a children’s narrative, then great. If you just want to watch a movie rendition, then good for you. The point is, you have options and you can choose them. If you are after convenience and still want a taste for what readers of the original have appreciated, you can attain that.
But here’s the deal. What if you really wanted to read the full length version and you set out to do so. And what if you did not know you had to hunt hard for the real thing because you were not aware of the fact that there were abridged versions out there (or versions that called themselves unabridged, but seriously chopped up the story, removing sections the translator thought were not relevant and replaced descriptive words with other choices that were far less than superior – believe me, they exist)? And what if even the most renowned bookstores only carried the abridged versions or the altered versions, and did not label them as such? Then you might never perceive that you devoted your time and energy into something you were not really seeking. It would be a rather tragic discovery to know you had invested much focus and hope into an endeavor but then, far too late, realized that a much greater fulfillment could have been yours, had you only known. Even though what you had poured your self into was still a great delight, you might feel the loss of a possible reward knowing that a compromise was unintentionally made.
Maybe I might be thinking too much about something that seems rather trivial. Because really, when reading an abridgment, the implications are not THAT severe.
But when I started to think about how this might be analogous to life in some way, there was something really worth considering more on. I wondered if there were certain areas of my life (important ones) that I was diminishing because I was living out only an abridged version, and I was not really aware that I was doing so.
abridge [uh-brij] verb
to shorten by omissions while retaining the basic contents. to reduce or lessen. diminish. to deprive. cut off.
In my story, I make sure to get through the chapters on school time (spelling, math, reading, history), Bible time, making nutritious meals, grocery shopping with in budget, bed making, vacuuming, laundry (well, I do skim through that one), dishes, chores with the girls, rest time for all; all those parts that seem necessary and important in terms of getting things done. But I am realizing that I am a poor editor if I skip through the moments of appeared nothingness with my children because they don’t seem to serve an obvious purpose. I once came across a comment that said reading an abridged version is like removing part of the soul of the story. And I fear that is what I have been unintentionally doing; shortening the story and removing part of the soul of parenting.
Just the other day, Halle wanted me to sit with her and look at a princess book we had checked out from the library. She didn’t want me to read it, but just be together on the couch and admire the beautiful dresses and talk about which parts we liked best. But I was ‘busy’ and shooed her off. I had things to do in the kitchen. The laundry buzzer had also just gone off and it was about to be a very busy evening of driving kids to and from 3 different dance classes. No, it was not the best use of my time, because it was not being very productive. Or so I thought.
That next morning, when I was out in the den reading and with my cup of coffee, the ignored princess book was on the table in front of me, reminding me of choices from the previous night. It made me realize that, in my haste to get through the must-dos of the day, I missed an opportunity to just be with Halle.
I was so saddened by this and thus determined there must be a change!
It isn’t too late to do something. I want to take the time for rich and extensive character development with my girls, to go deep with their thoughts and their desires. I refuse to only do what ‘seems’ to be the most productive and the best use of my time. All moments are important, relevant, and profitable to the underlying story. I want the elation of a rich and profound ending because I have taken it all in. The fast paced and the tangibly constructive aren’t the only elements that make for a gratifying experience. The slow (seemingly uneventful) moments with my girls are just as precious and I want to make sure they are all left in my parenting story. They might not be obvious, so I will need to look hard for them. But I desperately do want that unabridged version of parenting!
Just look at all the possible joy and fulfillment that awaits!