Fiction is contrived. And I’m quite sure I haven’t exposed the wizard behind the curtain with that revelation. A character’s learning moments can be exaggerated and enhanced for literary purposes.
In real life, we don’t have the benefit of scene buildup, chapter headings and closings, multiple POVs, crafted dialogue, or the multitude of devices a writer has to create an important juncture.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a true aha! moment. I’ve come gradually to what wisdom I possess. So while they’re not technically moments of growth, here are a few nuggets I live by:
Anger and altercation are physically taxing. To all parties. Remember or imagine a traffic situation where you were the innocent party. Despite your blameless behavior, you probably reacted viscerally: racing heartbeat, increased breathing, tightened muscles, and a vocal outburst. And the irresponsible driver perhaps sped off without a care… We’ve all been there. In life, I’ve learned to yield to jerks on the road and in person. I do not let their negativity ruin my travels.
Kindness is like a yawn. You can get most people to mirror the behavior reflexively.
Comparisons are dangerous. This is a tough one, I know. At fifty-one, I still see smiling group shots on Facebook and feel a small pinch of exclusion. And I’ll readily acknowledge that large parties are not my thing. But we are social creatures. We seek the company and approval of others. I try not to compare and measure such validation. I’m happily married. My two boys still enjoy dinner out with their parents. I have a good relationship with my extended family. I have a lovely circle of writing friends and tennis friends. I take a second look at the smiling group shots and begrudge nothing.
Money is often an illusion. The wealthy can be morally bankrupt. The humble can be rich in character. And vice versa. Base nothing on an individual’s Lexus, 8,000 sq-ft home, or red-bottom shoes.
Take the high road. You’ll love the perspective it affords.
A little bit of advancement toward a larger goal every day is enough. IS enough. Like personal growth, gradual progress will eventually amass into something tangible: a novel, a half marathon, a paid-off mortgage, etc.
I leave the aha! moments to my characters. For me personally, it’s more about reflection upon life’s ho-hum moments.