Every now and then on my way from one work location to another, I tune into NPR. Those times when class has been difficult and Taylor Swift just doesn't seem appropriate. (Blasphemy, I know). The other day during one such drive, they had a segment where a twenty-five year old woman was going to be interviewing various people about where they were when they were twenty-five. She was interested in what they were doing, how they felt, what they struggled with. Mostly anything from that year of their lives.
In the course of that ten minute car ride, listening to an interview, I came to a little realization and that realization has taken up residence in the forefront of my thinking for the past few days now.
What I realized was this: No one ever writes stories about easy lives.
While all of us struggle in some way, some are undoubtedly dealt a more difficult hand in life. And those who overcome or make the most of or survive or flat-out awe the beejesus out of the rest of us? Well those are the ones whose stories are told. Again and again. They are the videos gone viral. The stuff of Oscar movies and classic novels. The basis for an unforgettable melody. Pages upon pages in a history text book.
My parents will tell you, I'm quite the complainer. I like easy. I don't like to struggle and I detest adversity. In short, I'd love life to be handed to me in a perfect little package with the most perfect little bow. But I've taken this notion of stories to heart. And I've been reminding myself lately that I'm writing the story of my life. When obstacles come. When despair lurks in the dark nights. When even in sleep, I'm restless. It's then that I'm writing the story of my life. I'm stringing together the first notes of that melody. I'm creating those "Call me Ishmael" moments. And the challenges and disappoints, well, those are the necessarily compelling plot twists that keep a reader up til late in the night, lights dim, book in hand.
And if I can remember that, remember that never was there a great story without equally great conflict, then I can keep pressing forward. Head down, shoulders squared, pressing forward always and no matter what. After all, Florentino Ariza didn't win his love, Fermina Diaz, until they were far too old. And Harry Potter didn't become one of the most beloved fiction characters of all time by killing Voldemort on page one. The greatest stories are rarely about lives lived easily.
So, I'll take my hits and my obstacles and keep pushing on, knowing that those are the foundation of this great story. And I'll hope that when the story of my life is written, someone somewhere will stay up late into the night to read just one more page.
How will your story be told?