I’m young and I don’t know much, but what I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is this – Life can beat you down and wring every ounce of strength you believe you have until it makes you curl up into a ball and cry. Even the toughest, most self-absorbed, emotionally switched off person has feelings. They can bury them as much as they’d like, but all humans feel. We’re programmed before birth to key off of the emotional state of others, it’s society and life experiences that turn a person against their own desire to communicate how they are feeling to other people. The difference between those who have the strength to carry on and those who fling themselves from one emotional shipwreck to another is the former person’s ability to find a ray of sunshine and hold onto it.
That ray of light could bring with it resolve. It might shepherd you to a place of solace where you reconstitute yourself into the person you know in your heart you are. It might bring you the hard truth of your current situation and give you the courage you need to make the tough choice. No two lives tell the same tale, but I’ve found enough lives which have common parallels to my own, so after all the hard times I’ve faced, I know a ray of light can be found.
I use those shared experiences in my writing. I’ve written characters who are polar opposites from each other, yet shared common background traits neither might admit. In my Mythos Division Series, Julius and Lyra might feel light night and day. One is a well-educated intellectual who is desperate to find a piece of history and secure a place among peers. The other is just as cerebral, but uses her time honed talents to ascend to the pinnacle of a deadly network. In truth, they are far closer in internal character than they are different, they simply have different first and second gears when it comes to problem solving. Past the coating of social interactions and morality, they share many common truths. Julius and Lyra evolve over the three book arc, as they should given the experiences they have.
So what do we do when we forget about the sunshine? It happens to all of us. We get weighed down by situations beyond our control (or those we perceive we cannot control) and then the darkness creeps in. It comes slowly at first, just at the edge of our vision, but if we do not allow ourselves to hold onto the sunshine in our lives, a cloud forms. This cloud brings a storm and one which can dominate our waking hours. This cloud interrupts our passions and happiness. If we do not find the sun, we may find ourselves in the mire and muck of depression, unable to find peace. I’m in the middle of writing a character who has a cloud over their head. They aren’t aware of its destructive power, and this will cause them to question where their life is headed.
As I’ve mentioned before, much of my fiction writing is pulled from emotions I’ve felt deeply. I feel it is easier to write about what I know. It makes no difference whether it is from a male or female perspective, emotions at their core are emotions. Are their differences? Of course there are, but what matters is what they are feeling and how that changes their decision making moving forward. No matter the gender (or lack thereof) humans feel.
I don’t have a single magical plan which pulls me out of an emotional or mental nosedive. It isn’t a simple as “just feel better” – because if it was I would have done it as soon as I saw the cloud had formed. The path back to feeling like my true self might lay through this keyboard, or it might be next to the firepit staring up at the stars. My wife does her level best when I feel like I’ve lost my sunshine, and she’s the perfect match for me in that regard. I can’t tell you what yours will be, that’s a path and truth you have to discover on your own. Just like the characters I’m writing now, it’s a process of self-discovery some choose and others ignore.
Addendum: The house is on the market. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. So much hard work culminated to a peak Thursday when the house was finally made available for others to see. Yet even as we’ve reached a milestone, the road to a new house is not over. There is work to be done and miles to go before we rest under a new roof. For now though we can breathe a bit easier and turn our attention to finding the next castle to raise our family banners at.