Over the past five years, I've witnessed many of my associates in the construction world, losing everything that they owned due to the collapsing economy. Two personal acquaintances took their own lives, leaving behind grieving wives and children, while another threw his hands up and declared, "I quit!" abandoning his responsibilities as father, husband and provider to pursue a less strenuous course of solitude. Another turned to hatred, accusing God of the treachery that had caused his ruin, while still another fell into a life of debauchery, too devious to describe further.
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting in conversation with two others, who have not lost hope, even though they too have suffered as I and so many others in great personal losses over this difficult time.
The following journal entry taken from early in the stages of writing "Search For Yesterday", though it repeats thoughts expressed in a previous "Not so fictional fiction" post, sheds what I thought was a telling revelation about just such battles that we face in our different lives. I hope it's significance is not lost because of my weakness in expressing it.
Dec. 9 2008
I don't know what's happening. This story has exploded with life and I'm finding that I control less and less of how it unfolds with the addition of each new character. I'm wondering if what I'm feeling isn't some sort of “God Complex” because all of these characters, with their separate, individual personalities, attitudes, issues, ideals and prejudices, have begun to react on each others actions. All I can seem to do is create varying scenarios by manipulating the world around them and hope they in turn cooperate with the basic course I have laid out for my story line.
We've had several storms over the past week requiring me to be in my plow truck for hours on end, so what I've been doing is brainstorming like crazy while I drive. First I turn off the radio and mentally go over the sequential geographical landmarks I have already laid out for the story line to travel through. Then, still talking to myself aloud, I start plugging in potential scenarios, talking each character one by one through my experiment with as many of their anticipated reactions I can think of until I find something I think will move my story along toward its next critical milestone. It's crazy, but that's about all I can do! ...give my characters agency, put them in a situation, and hold on! Life just happens, and with it, happiness and ruin also happen, complete with wonderful highs and the terrible lows. As the story reaches the setting of Southwest Colorado, and the two families establish the Double H Ranch there, Ben Halladay makes this statement.
“Well being is not measured in the avoidance of travails, but in our taking them on, and fighting through life's follies, however God might deem in his wisdom to allow them to encumber us.”
For years now, I have subscribed to this philosophy, having learned it from the example of my parents and other steadfast couples and indivduals that have influenced me. Through it all, I have been able to reconcile the highs and lows of life, finding that one is nothing without the other. The more I observe this little fictional world that I have created in my story, the fiercer my conviction becomes. On a tiny scale, what is happening through its progression, seems eerily similar to real life, shadowing almost exactly, the patterns of this world in which I live. It screams the reality of Deity, who gives me my existence, free will and the opportunity of self discovery as I act and react upon those with whom I associate from day to day.
Today in my writing, a harrowing scene emerged from seemingly nowhere, wherein a couple of surly characters happened onto the ranch while nearly all of the men were away. All I did was bring the men there, and before I knew it, I was the observer of something I hadn't planned nor was I sure I wanted, yet in disbelief, I allowed my fingers to bang out the terrible consequence of my impulsive act. As a result, and through this experience today, I was again reminded that the worst of times and conditions will always do three things; expose evil, make good people better, and allow the weak to either wilt or blossom, and in the end, those who choose to be happy. ...are.
Both friends who I mentioned conversing with in my introduction, have made the choice to remain hopeful, happy and industrious, adopting the tenacious attitude of, "they can take my stuff, but they can't take my soul"
I love the words of that quirky song of not too many years past, "...don't worry, be happy."