I read constantly, both fiction and non-fiction. When I am reading a fictional tale, I enjoy finding a life lesson revealed within the context of the story.
Here is an except from Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. Wintrow is depressed because his life is way off the course he had planned. Mostly due to unfortunate events that were out of his control.
He shook his head sadly, “I do not know. Perhaps it is, for other folk, I only know it was not what I was accustomed to, nor what I expected. I keep trying to think of a way to get back to where I was and restore my life to what it is supposed to be, but—”
“You can’t go back,” she told him bluntly. Her voice was neither kind or unkind. “That part of your life is over. Set it aside as something you have finished. Complete, or no, it is done with you. No being gets to decide what his life is ‘supposed to be.’” She lifted her eyes and her gaze stabbed him. “Be a man. Discover where you are now, and go on from there, making the best of things. Accept your life, and you might survive it. If you hold back from it, insisting this is not your life, not where you are meant to be, life will pass you by. You may not die from such foolishness, but you might as well be dead for all the good your life will do you or anyone else.”
Do you ever find yourself trying to go back in time? It is only natural to think that we can fix things by putting them back to the way they were before. Life just doesn’t work that way!
I find that when I am facing a difficult situation, it is important to remember not to try to undo the past, but to chart a new future. I must evaluate the current situation, learn from the past, but move forward.
This may seem easy as you read this example, but subconsciously we want to go back to a time when we were comfortable. I try to recognize when I fall into this trap. It is true. We cannot go back.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
The sweet joy of triumph! When we succeed at a challenging task, solve a complicated problem, or reach a goal, we rejoice. We are elated. Failures fade away because we have achieved a milestone.
Would we know the feeling of triumph without the awareness of defeat? Isn’t our recognition of a win enhanced by the missteps we made along the way?
Every day I must remind myself that it is imperative to risk failure in order to find success. If I wait for the best opportunity, then I will miss many openings for progress. So many of our daily decisions are affected by timing. Yet rarely is our timing perfect.
If we want success and to experience triumph, then we must act. Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Today was made for challenges. Today was made for triumph. We can take the leap of faith that is needed to overcome.
“Tomorrow we will become what we choose today. To change means to choose to change.” – John C. Maxwell
I love this quote because there is so much wisdom in just fifteen words.
1. Change takes time. We must work today for what we want tomorrow. Our focus needs to be on the future. Very little permanent change occurs within one day.
2. Change is a choice. It will not occur without intent. We have the opportunity to decide what we wish to change.
3. Change is never ending. Every day we can work towards tomorrow’s goals. Incremental change has a huge impact over a lifetime of effort.
Often we stumble on these points, and we don’t change as much as we expect. We can choose to change to meet our goals in our professional life, our personal life, in our diet, our exercise, or our habits. Can we change? Each day we can strive to make ourselves better tomorrow.
“The more we narrow the definition of beauty, the more beauty we shut out of our lives.” – Jim C. Hines
That quote appears in a fantasy novel. In this particular section of the book, one of the main characters is thinking about the other characters in the book. This sentence intrigues me for several reasons. First, I think it is true.
Second, it reflects a chicken or the egg puzzle. Did the author craft this part of the story to make this point, or did the author have this thought while crafting this part of the story? We may never know, but just like the chicken and the egg, we get to enjoy both. We can appreciate the story, and we can appreciate the egg.
The third reason this sentence intrigues me because it gets at a very important point about our lives. We live day to day from our own perspective. Our view of the world is unique to ourselves. If we are not aware of the limits our reality, then we are not aware of our potential. We limit ourselves. I find it important to always challenge our own thinking.
I did not expect to find this quote in this book. Many people probably have read that sentence and not spent time thinking about the implication. But it is a great example of what we can find when we take the time to pause, become aware, listen, and think.
It also shows us that not all great ideas have to come from a textbook, or a professor. There are lessons all around us.