Light a spark of story and join authors everywhere in overpowering doom with optimism.
On a recent episode of my podcast, reading an excerpt from a client book about the importance of finding common ground and reconnecting with our American Identity, I posed the question: Have we become a nation of “sides” rather than of individuals? Of more collective narratives than individual stories?
If you want proof of this, think about all the posts we’ve seen on social media in recent years, prefaced by disclaimers like “I don’t care which side you’re on…” or “no matter which side you’re on.” The assumption that everyone must be on “a side” has become our new normal.
This makes books more important than ever, personal stories and perspectives even more vital. The fact that books exist at all, is a constant reminder that individual points of view do not need to be an exact match for the collective narratives – the available “sides.”
Opinions aren’t meant to be a value meal at a fast food drive through. One selection does not fit all.
As fun as it is to share all the memes of unknown origins because they “mostly” match what we’re thinking, let’s remember that perspectives reflecting the complexity of life were never meant to be cookie cutter. So when your thoughts don’t seem to fit in, don’t feel bad. Those snappy one liners on bland backgrounds can be entertaining, but they don’t come close to telling the whole story.
Taking the time to delve into the finer details and nuances of your point of view – messiness, contradictions, confusion and all – is always a worthwhile endeavor. That is what authors do and, God willing, what they will always do.
So I guess what I’m saying is – stop sharing… and start sharing.
Light a Spark
In times of confusion and darkness, individual stories like the ones authors tell in books are like lit candles. Each one serves as a reminder that deep within “the masses” are actual human beings, each with their own ability to spark change – even for just their little world. Together, those sparks can build a bonfire.
The optimistic stories of one can outnumber the negative narratives of many. The stories and ideas of individuals might be our best defense against getting swept up in collective conformity wildfires.
This presents an opportunity now to finally understand what phrases like “writing a book can change the world” really implies. Of course it doesn’t mean that one author, one book, will literally “change the world.” But combine those “ones” together, into a flash mob of individual voices, especially ones of optimism, hope, and solutions, and the world as we know it can indeed change. Even just a little, even just one brave voice at a time.
What Can You Do?
Be a constant observer of what you think, even if it doesn’t fit neatly into any major plotlines you’re seeing elsewhere.
Look for opportunities to share your personal stories, observations, and ideas to overpower collective doom and gloom, with individual optimism. One person with the courage to acknowledge and then author their own thoughts is one of the biggest dangers to “consensus.”
“A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.”Abba Eban
Write it down. Even if you don’t publish it (yet). Unexamined thoughts are usually the ones cluttering your mind, shape shifting, fooling you, creating anxiety from their continuous motion, and causing all sorts of other problems. If you don’t take the time to look at the thoughts in your own head, it’s awfully easy to simply agree with other people’s thoughts. Get it all out and onto the page.
Need a starting point? Try these Writing Prompts!