Blissfully skipping to the conclusion

Published 7:01 am Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shortly after I read the spoilers for the season 7 premiere of “The Walking Dead,” it hit me like a brick. Oh, good lord; I was doing it: Recreating my biggest pet peeves of my dad’s from my childhood, and what’s worse: I understood and fully supported it.

I remember it happening most on family trips to malls. Just out of a bookstore, my dad and I would sit outside a women’s clothing store at the Mall of America waiting for my mom and sisters.

Taking a break from his usual people-watching, he would take my new book, page to the last chapter and started reading.

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This always fired me up as a kid. How could he skip all of the buildup and character development and jump to the ending? Would the ending even make sense without everyone else? It felt like having a helicopter drop you off at the top of a mountain, where you’d enjoy the view without the work and accomplishment of the hike to the top.

But I realized recently that I now do and support the same thing.

I saw a headline early this week about the series premiere of “The Walking Dead,” and I read past the warnings of spoilers just to see who died.

For those of you who haven’t heard, season 6 ended with a cliffhanger: Someone in the cast gets killed by the new baddie Negan, only you don’t know who it is.

Now I have friends who watch the wildly popular series and loathe hearing any bit of a spoiler — and I’m sure judge me in silence for not following suit. But I’ve never gotten hooked. I just can’t muster the years of dedication to a TV series like “The Walking Dead,” “Madmen” or “Breaking Bad.”

I tried. I failed. I moved on.

Part of me feels guilty for missing out on these pop culture phenomenons that have proved wildly popular in recent years. But I eventually accepted I just don’t have the time or dedication. My reading list and simply my list of books in progress are both embarrassingly long.

I started listing off my “in progress” books to someone in August and lost count and track partway through … and it’s only gotten worse in September and October.

Part of this comes from trying and failing to accept something: I don’t have to finish books (or TV shows) I’m just not into. School has an unexpected side effect of instilling in us a sense that we must finish every task we start, including books, movies, television shows, etc.

But then it dawns on you: Adulthood has no required reading or viewing. And if it did, most of us would fail miserably.

Life is filled quickly with responsibilities and priorities, and not to mention I feel scattered in both work and life due to business. It’s amazing that any kind of subtle addition or change to routine can suck up your free time in an instant.

Let me give you some context. When I sat down to write my column this week, my mind was afire with flurries of half-formed ideas. They included conspiracy theories, post-fact politics, this election in general (an it’s comparison to 2008 and 2012), fringe politics, the Cleveland indians vs. Chicago Cubs World Series, the opioid epidemic both locally and nationally, upcoming Austin Daily Herald special sections (thanks, Progress 2017), recent political and social satires, ignorance in democracy, the Associated Press’s “Divided America” series, civic education/knowledge … I could go on, but I think you get the picture. To summarize, dearest readers, I’m a bit of an over thinker, and there’s been a lot of fuel for the fire in recent weeks.

Our daily lives can get incredibly full and complex, so sometimes it’s amazingly refreshing to skip to the last few pages or read past “spoilers ahead” warnings and get some quick answers.

At a time when political uncertainty is at its regular four-year peak, we are reminded that the talking points of election season will hold no easy solution, regardless which candidate is elected to the various races.

So if we get an easy out with something — like the end of a book or TV show — it can be therapeutic to jump at the chance.