There’s plenty of events in life that simply happen to us, with no choice made in the process: illness, death, heartbreak, loss. Admittedly, those are absolutely huge moments in someone’s life, yet we often go so far as to say that those moments define us.
I don’t personally believe that events in and of themselves can define a human being. I do, however, believe that the way that human chooses to react to them, lying in the rubble of the aftermath, can absolutely become a pivotal moment in their life. To me, within the inevitable pain and suffering that life brings, there is potential for great beauty, should we choose to cultivate it. Hardships have as much meaning as we make of them, and in this way we are authors, and our lives are wonderfully complex stories, always with more blank pages waiting to be filled.
Like authors, we create the richest personal storylines when we pay attention to the small joys, and work through sorrows fully yet without wallowing (though great stories can also come out of learning why wallowing won’t help move you along). While overarching long term goals are necessary to further the plot and provide direction, true satisfaction comes from the culmination of seemingly mundane moments and decisions. Upon noticing and appreciating more of the small joys and sensations of life, it nearly immediately becomes more satisfying, and less stressful (easier said than done, I know, trust me).
When times are good, take that extra ten seconds to appreciate crisp autumn morning air, take that extra twenty seconds to enjoy the smell of your coffee, take thirty seconds without headphones to walk around and enjoy the sound of your surroundings. Put your phone away for half an hour, your work emails will still be there when you get back to it.
When times are not so good, have patience with yourself. The novels we loved so much as children were ruined when a friend told us how it would end. The worst part of the story often occurred right before the most victorious ending, as we too will have. Life’s plot may seem unfair and extremely painful right now, but the most amazing next chapters have yet to be written and, in our own unique ways, we will all do so. It’s easy and entirely reasonable to dwell and wonder why circumstances are the way they are, but I find that remaining stagnant in that state does little to help me. I prefer to take my time to cry, wonder, feel, and process, and then create as much as I can from those feelings, thus giving them a purpose and a place in this greater story of life. Creating, in my case mostly writing and music, allows me to purge any emotion that I feel in excess, and give it a time capsule on paper (or screen). Writing and music are my novels, my life is the storyline, and I am the author. I believe that this ability lies within all of us, and I encourage anyone to look within themselves and find it.