By C.L. Phillips
Do you have a list of the most important lessons you've learned in your life? I do. I don't talk about them. Many of life's lessons come with more than a little pain. Maybe you rub that scar on your knee from when you learned the lesson about black diamond mogul ski runs. Or maybe you think wistfully about the love that slipped away before you learned how rare love can be.
But sometimes you can learn an important lesson simply by trying something new.
Several years ago, I had the good fortune to participate in a workshop led by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers. Perhaps her name is familiar. She worked with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers as they created the PBS series and subsequent book, The Power of Myth. Dr. Flowers is a poet, writer, professor, and former head of the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.
My partner and I quickly got to work. Noise filled the room as twelve pairs of people began talking, moving their hands, telling the story of their lives. "SWITCH", said Dr. Flowers. My partner stopped talking and I began. I made up the most outrageous story of my life I could imagine. The facts were all basically true, but I glossed over the tough spots, focusing more on the outcome, my success.
My partner and I stared at each other. The room became so quiet you would swear you were at a funeral. My partner tried to start, but tears filled his eyes. I grabbed his hand. "It's ok, it's only a story", I said. Somehow he found the words. Dr. Flowers said, "SWITCH". Now it was my turn. A five hundred pound weight slammed into my body as I took a breath and started. I managed to eek out a couple of sentences. Sniffles and blowing noses pierced the silence. Nobody made eye contact.
A morose vibration filled the same room that only moments before danced with laughter. Dr. Flowers eyes twinkled as she said, "STOP. Now which felt better?"
We could barely mutter the answer, our spirits were so low. "Hero."
She said, "The facts were the same in both stories. You decide whether you live as the hero or the victim."
Uh-oh. Life lesson.
Everybody wants to be the hero, and when you write your own story remember this - if you are not the triumphant hero, it just means the story isn't over yet.
C.L. Phillips writes mystery novels while nestled under a hundred-year live oak tree in downtown Austin. Except in August. C.L writes about the the gap between what people want and what they actually do. Broccoli or chocolate chip cookies, anyone? Check out her web site: http://www.clphillips.com/ or find her onTwitter: @clphillips787