Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Courage in the Face of Judgment

 Deciding on what kind of candy I need while I'm striving to reach the ambitious writing goal I set is difficult. (Come on now, we all know candy is a need not a want.)  This is an arduous thought process, this decision making stuff.  I mean, if I get the chocolate it might not be enough chocolate.  If I get the Laffy Taffy, I have to unwrap each one and then I would have to stop typing.  Wait, that might be good for my diet then.  Twizzlers don't come individually wrapped, so I can type and snack, but the kids will bother me because they want some too.  UGH!  Sound familiar?  Everyone makes choices in their life everyday.  Some are easier than others, but we all know what it is like to make a tough choice.  So why is it then, that we judge another person's decisions?

Almost daily, I see students, teachers, parents making decisions at break neck pace.  And just as fast, there is someone there judging these decisions and sharing their well-intended opinions.  With all of this immediate feedback it's no wonder decisions are tough.  Make the wrong one and the world will haunt you for it.  Make the right one and someone will tell you what you should have done differently.  What is it that makes us all forget the difficulty that goes into making decisions, deciding on the value of opportunity cost?

I just read a beautiful novel, As Small as a Mustard Seed, by Shelli Johnson.  I spent so much of the novel questioning the decisions of the mother in the story as I watched her through the eyes of her oldest daughter. She struggled with the cost of protecting family over protecting just the children.  For much of it, I was feeling the burns of old wounds I have because of my own mother's similar struggle.  Yet, as the story continues, Shelli allows us to see the family years later through the eyes of an adult daughter.  A daughter who has lived her own life away from the struggles at home and has a fresh perspective of her youth.  It is amazing how our opinions of some one's choices change with time, age, experience and perspective.

I mention this because I was feeling very stuck with the mother in my own novel.  I didn't like her.  Here I am creating this woman, and I'm disgusted by her and her choices.  No matter how I tried to write her, I struggled because I felt wrong making her likable now when her choices as a younger mother were appalling.  Reading Shelli's novel helped me see that perspective and life experience are the things that make it OK to change our opinions of the decisions people in our lives make.  She helped me see that I NEED to work through writing this character because I NEED to work through these issues in my own life as well.  I need to remember to respect the courage it takes to make a decision, while well aware of the judgments you are facing.

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