The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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Writing and being an author is not easy work, and for the majority of us, it isn’t all that lucrative. Certainly not in the way I hear many people talk about it 🙂 In spite of this, I, and so many others, forge on, because it is never solely about the money, and two events occurred recently that underscored what it is truly all about.

I had my eldest daughter with me at her younger sister’s gymnastics class, and she wasn’t too thrilled about it to begin with, but as we settled into the bleachers for viewing, a man came in with his son. He knew someone else there and began a conversation with the woman, while his son played away on his tablet. At one point, this guy started talking about his work, and not in a conversational tone. He was literally standing, straddling a row of bleachers and talking at this “friend” of his.  After discussing bonuses won and how “ridiculous” the amount was, he then said, “I make two-hundred thousand a month.” Everyone, including my daughter, looked around like, This guy!

And so we sat and I watched my daughter flip and fling herself all over the place, while thinking about this guy’s work. It’s in sales and from the way he made it sound, wasn’t overly complicated. There’s clearly a need that his company is fulfilling, and if he was being honest, in a very lucrative way. And as one does when you are a writer, I put myself in his shoes and tried to imagine what his day was like, his life, his motivation, his philosophy, his deep thoughts.

I didn’t like what was there. It was cold and calculated and focused on money alone. I slid closer to my daughter, while the man yammered away, seemingly unaware of his son, the rest of the parents, and even to a degree the woman with whom he was speaking.

Now, all of my observations could be biased and wrong and entirely based on misinformation. Yet, even if I’m wrong about him, there is always That guy, and he manages to make our financial endeavors seems small.

However, earlier in the week, I was out to dinner with my family, and my eldest, who is creative and who writes stories and plays and is careful with her language was acting very much like me at the dinner table, correcting her sister on the use of some word and then watching a pair of adults to “see the similarities,” as she said. Yup, she was doing the author thing, where we stare and use what’s there to make up stories, to read the lives we think we see–exactly what I did with the guy at gymnastics.

So I turned to her and said, “Do you really want to be like me?”

She looked up, shrugged, and as she answered, looked down. “Well, yeah.”

My heart broke a little in that moment. I had only been joking. Because as much as I adore being an author and focusing on things that most people don’t, and may never need to, I still wouldn’t trade it for having my attention saturated with thoughts about finances or sales or the hustle. Apparently, neither will my daughter.

And I love and hate that. There’s only so much room in this world for people like us, the daydreamers and the storytellers, while there seems to be an abundance of space for the rest. Yet, I also know that it’s not the big picture, what the others do, that matters. You will never control that. But we can hold tight to our little lives and their stories, and how focusing on the small details, the nuances, may be the best way to spend them.

At least that’s the story I’m telling myself.

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