When I finish reading a book, I always take a few moments to let the story resonate, recalling the main character’s journey and trying to find a way to relate it to my own life, the world, and beyond. It is as though every tale becomes a part of my own soul. If the story was profound enough, I sometimes find myself pondering what would happen next. After all, the words “The End” were merely an editorial choice by some writer or publisher. Some stories, though, have more staying power than an author’s ability to relate. I refer to this pondering as a “personal epilogue,” where I get to choose how things draw out into the future. Sometimes these inventive endings are sad. More often, however, they bring resolution to a heroes journey, adding a few more obstacles for the protagonist to navigate or an old adversary reappearing to be vanquished one last time. Over the years, suspending belief for imaginative will has brought me much joy.
At times, I’ve even applied this post-epilogue thinking to my own narrative, playing out the myriad chess moves of a future not yet lived. Senior tennis player and National Champion Bob Litwin speaks about living the best story of your life, suggesting you can change your script at any moment to make the future wonderful.
About a year ago, I thought I’d read the words “The End” on the Roger Federer story. I knew there might be some mention in the author’s credits or perhaps some bibliographical info at the novel’s end, but it was clear the King had been dethroned and the aching knee and #10 ranking suggested a quickening decline into history. And then the Australian Open thing happened. What an epilogue to a career! Eighteen majors to cement his place as the Greatest of All Time while win-chasers Novak and Rafa looked on in admiration. As he raised his trophy, I closed the back cover and placed his career’s book on my nightstand. With so many highlights in his heroes journey, there was too much in the past to bother pondering about the future.
Tomorrow the BNP Paribas’ Men’s final will take place. Roger Federer will play Stan Wawrinka for the championship. At thirty-five years old, what he is doing is unimaginable, unbelievable. He is a protagonist whose journey appears boundless. He is doing what so many of us want to do, finding the fountain of youth when the icy waters of age should be freezing his victorious veins.
Today, the terms prologue, story and epilogue are all we have to work with. When finished, we have to begin another volume. Think about that. Tomorrow’s final may be the preview of a whole new novel. Tonight I’ll be dusting off a place on my nightstand.