I want to talk about the people that are peripheral to your every day. In my life, they are the bus drivers that work so I can get around town. They are the retail workers that ring up my purchases at the stores where I shop. The gas station attendant who explains I can save a couple bucks if I grab another off the shelf holds a special place. Just people doing what they do.
But then if you realize that their lives are as rich as your own with complex relationships, health issues, families, hobbies, friends, etc; the world explodes. It’s as if, like your own family tree, they expand into an infinity. When you see everyone as intricate parts of one another, things get fascinatingly complex.
But we don’t typically enjoy complex. We’d rather look past that woman in the beautiful dress that manspreads. We’d rather not realize that the armrest we’ve been using was someone’s leg that they kept crossed because you were unwittingly borrowing it. It’s like we put on blinders to the lives that are happening around us to maintain simplicity.
That really isn’t very human of us and yet it is perfectly human. It’s like looking at a painting but only seeing the picture, not the colors. We gray out the things we don’t want to pay attention to like a speed reader does for the words, not letters. We do a human shorthand so our brains can remain focused on our thoughts, emotions, and reactions. We can ignore the background noise without having to actually participate.
When I ride the bus, I do my best to be mindful of the people I’m riding with. It’s not out of fear or anxiety, but more like an observation of my surroundings. I’ve found some pretty great people to talk to about many different topics. I’ve discovered, as I’m walking to or from the bus, secret codes embedded on the sidewalks. I’ve found trinkets such as a honking duck, a tiny bird that got stunned on the glass windows of GVSU, dollar bills, and even a guy who loved my art and bought one of my pieces.
I challenge you to reach out to the world by opening up your eyes and turning up the color. See if you can guess their story about their appearance without asking. Make up their backstory so that you can practically sit down at their dinner table as their invited guest. See how quickly their lives become full and rich with color and flavor.
Make up their relationship with the person sitting far away from them. See if you can make them meet in your head. What will the conversation be like? Will it be angry? Long lost? Happy? A reuniting of high school BFF’s? Who have they lost in their life? Why is that important to the narrative?
I’m asking you these questions because at the beginning of the new year, I am to begin writing one of four books to be completed by the end of 2019. I’m a procrastinator so I’m going to give you a brief synopsis of each:
- (Working Title) Seventeen Days: A love story: A woman estranged from her best friend takes a road trip to rescue her. Their reunion is a wild adventure.
- (Working Title) Talking to the Ceiling; Looking to the Sky: A spiritual evolution that occurs when a woman seeks to release her anger toward God.
- (Working Title) The Fireman’s Son: A loving father describes life as a Fireman via letters to his deployed son during WWII.
- (Working Title) The Loves of Clara: A woman born in the early 19th century leads a secret life as a famous artist.
And there you have it. Why don’t you help me out here and comment which book you’d read first and why. It might help me narrow down my choices. I’ll let you into my world so you can sonder around as a repayment, how’s that?