WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
Each morning, I start my day reading from Bible. I’m not methodical about it; I crack the Good Book open, confident that what I most need that day, I’ll get, and just read. And I am ever humbled (and often awed) that during my day, something comes up where what I read that morning is exactly what I need to deal with that something constructively.
Today, I read about possibility and potential, and I thought about both and polarity: There is good, there is evil. There is joy, there is sorrow. There is light, there is dark. There is humility, there is arrogance. And on the list goes. But I did spot something significant that has stayed on my mind and the more I think on it, the more it spurs insight into new facets of it.
Looking at the realm of possibility and potential, I noted a trend that brings to mind the old saying about necessity breeding invention. And I see that time after time, before possibility opened its door or potential was consciously noted, a trial or challenge preceded it. (I expect noting this is what prompted many sayings, such as: “A door closes, a window opens,” or “Success is doubling your failure rate,” or “It’s always darkest before dawn.” I don’t recall who said any of those things first, but I do see an added dimension to them this morning.
We humans are creatures of habit. We develop habits–ways of doing things, when we do them (like me starting my day reading), how we do them–and we find comfort in the repetition or the familiarity. The routine or ritual we do makes us feel safe and secure and as if we’re in control. And so we avoid many walls, obstacles, barriers that push us, test our limits and our strengths. We are content, at ease, unstressed. We are at peace.
And then something happens to upset our applecart. We are often shocked and even more often resentful. Because now our comfort zone is shot and we are forced by necessity to “do” something. Something different and unsettling and new and risky and we were just settling in from the last applecart upset. We don’t like this.
We look ahead and we’re not certain what’s there. And rather than seeing it as a new adventure full of possibility and potential, too often we see only the challenges and we seek only the next comfort zone and we fret over how quickly we can get to it. We want the least amount of upset, the least amount of uncertainty. We want that zone, now, and forget taking any scenic tours to get to it.
That’s human nature. Many say, screw the journey, just get me to the destination. But others, and I feel lucky to count myself among them this morning, recognize these upsets as turning points. We’ve learned the value of them, and we still look back a little before drawing any conclusions about this turning point and the roads that lay ahead.
In looking back, we see that often in the past we changed something because we had no choice but to change. We acted out of necessity. Whether an outside force or an internal one served as the catalyst, we had to react to it. Most often, we saw these catalysts as challenges and/or trials to be endured. But with the clarity of hindsight, we see that they were the birth of possibility and potential.
How many times have you said, “I thought this was bad, but it’s turned out to be the best thing in the world for me?” Initially, it felt bad. It made you look at things in a different light. Open your mind to other things, other ways, other possibilities. And then, when you acted, you saw potential in these new and different things, ways and possibilities. And you acted on them. And then, at that point, those “best things” were unleashed and you, the real you inside, expanded in mind and spirit.
The significant thing to note about these turning points is that they require action. See new possibilities, act on them. See potential, act on it. Act, and unleash and expand.
Far too often, I see people hit a turning point and just stop. They sit and spin, sometimes for the rest of their lives. The reasons are many, as diverse as the people. Some do nothing because it’s easier than doing something. Some are bewildered and like being bewildered because of the coddling and support that comes with it. Some claim they’re just too weary to act or start over again. Some have so much else to deal with that they hide in denial, avoidance, and refuse to see (much less accept) change as good–and they consider those actions essential to their survival. And some just plain like sitting and spinning.
When I think of this is relation to characters, it’s so easy to see why during the creation of them, they always surprise and shock me, and quickly become more complex than originally anticipated. The choices in developing them are infinite, and it takes real discipline to not get so interested in their histories I spend months exploring their pasts.
The thing is that characters are all about possibility and potential and the challenges and trials that precede both. So are we. And since they bond with readers and we bond with each other, it makes sense to look at how and why. Deeply.
Because the better we understand ourselves and others, the better we understand the realm of possibility and potential and polarity. We more quickly recognize turning points that present themselves and see the good in them. We focus not on what is no more, but on what actions we must take to recognize potential and expand those possibilities to make them new reality.
It’s all about attitude. A different future is coming. You can rise to meet it reluctantly or enthusiastically; it’s coming either way. Or you can sit and spin.
And that’s what’s on my mind this morning….
HER PERFECT LIFE
THE COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR WRITERS