Sometimes life can get so bizarre or hard, I have to ask if it's real or am I part of a fiction plot? Is someone playing games with me? Am I a 'sim' that a malevolent being is toying with? If I was creating the Stefanie's life's story, I'd certainly throw her lots of problems, suspense, and drama. I'd also give her high points...if only to make the falling to the lows all that more painful. We readers want drama and trauma. It's what pulls the story forward. But I've found a way to beat the plot.
Being a writer, I ponder plot a lot. (note: two books I highly recommend are The Writer's Journey by Christopher Volger , which is a masterful work based on Joseph's Campbell's work The Hero's Journey, and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, which is snappy and succinct spin off of those two tomes.) Plot points pull a story forward because they mirror a rhythm we are used to, they reflect a pattern our minds are familiar with, such as after a high point, there comes a low, if we meet a shady character, and choose to engage with them, shady dealings will probably follow. For example, you date your married neighbor, don't be surprised when that doesn't end well.
Though I haven't managed to make that social faux pas, one time when things got hairy in my life, my German grandma told me a saying from the old world, "You run with the wolves, you hang with the wolves." Got to love Germans for going for the jugular. She was telling me that I created that drama. So according to her, our lives are non-fiction, we make choices and events ensue from them.
But what about the sucker punches? The things that come out of nowhere? The car accidents? The bank failures (well that wasn't from nowhere...)? The choices your kids make despite your best efforts to teach them better? All these things could be what my yoga background calls the karma of past lives playing out, karma meaning just actions, as in the law of cause and effect, as in running with wolves, or building a straw house when there is a wolf about. Or it could be an unfeeling universe spewing random events at me. Or it could be a god or a sim master playing with me. Is my life fiction or non?
Whatever conclusion I draw, will create a different theme in my life. Even non-fiction stories have themes. I've been reading a lot of them lately, especially graphic novels because I am starting to write non-fiction for middle grade. They are rich in theme, using colors and tones to convey emotion and content. It's made me think a lot about these elements in my life. What texture do I want my life to have? Do I have any control over it? Yes. Somewhat. I may not be able to control all the events, but I can create my theme.
I've got a new theme: Stay centered while the pendulum swings. I can avoid the wolves, but I don't want to. It's not in my character. I like walking in the woods. I like wildlife, and given the chance to run my fingers through a wolf's fur, I will. It's as if someone wrote it into my DNA, into my nature. It's my archetype. So I know I bring a lot of my challenges onto myself. But I also am not so self-absorbed to think I am the center of the universe. Other forces are out there pushing my pendulum, swinging me about. But I can stay centered. To do this, I need to know my heart. It takes listening. Listening to its rhythm, to its needs, to its tone and texture. When I do, it's not just my heart that speaks. I hear other's. And like two metronomes set to different times, I can adjust my beating, my rhythm, my plot points, to better match what's happening around me.
When the plot thickens around me, I can respond positively , creating a better story, or at least not adding to the drama.