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I Will Not Be a Boring Novel

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I love to read, and my tastes are very eclectic: history, short stories, autobiography, literature, mysteries. I can stay lost in a good book for days. Mostly I read novels.

In high school, my English teacher told us that literature is built around conflict, usually (in the pre-aware language of the time) man vs. man, man vs. nature, or man vs. himself. The more intense the conflict, the more interesting the book.

Adventure stories and thrillers go further: not only is the conflict intense it is also complex. There are twists and turns, revelations and reversals, false starts and surprise endings. This roller coaster ride is what I love, and the longer it goes on, the more fun it is.

But when it comes to the most important struggles of my own life, I want things to be easy, straight-forward and uncomplicated I want to make an important decision one day and accomplish it the next, to change my habits without back-sliding, to adopt a healthy new lifestyle without drama. I want to work my program effortlessly every day. If this was a novel, it could never get published: not only is it unrealistic, it is also boring.

Which makes me wonder: do I believe that my own life is less worthy of my attention than my favorite fictional characters? Are my own challenges of less interest to me than a summer blockbuster? Are my own conflicts worth less of my time than a high school term paper?

Me vs. the desire to stay in bed. Me vs. chocolate. Me vs. the elliptical. There are epic battles, and some days I win and some days I lose. Me on a quest to find Onederland, assisted by magical beings and faithful friends while attacked and undermined by devious trans fats and hidden sugars. Me overcoming the trauma of learning that my lifetime love affair with salty snacks has sabotaged my commitment to my knees. The shocking but true story of how I fought the bear claw and the bear claw won. Now these are stories worth reading!

My Spark journey will not be a simple, point by point, straightforward movement from one triumph to another. By expecting imperfection from the outset, I can save myself the agony of beating myself up every time I don't succeed. My imperfections are windows for self-knowledge, chances to build inner strength and character.

Emotional eating, going over my calorie range, falling off the exercise bike, isolating, wanting to give up -- these are the mountains and the dragons of my life. I will not conquer them all every time. But by facing them, I reveal hidden sides of myself and my world, resources and strengths that I need to live out my dreams.

I am the hero of my own novel, and I refuse to be boring. Will I survive? Will I succeed? Will I find my prince? (No, that's too much of a fairy tale.) To find out how my story ends, I plan to stay tuned for the coming attractions.
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