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“Some of the kindest souls we know have lived in a world that was not so kind to them. Some of the best human beings we know, have been through so much at the hands of others, yet they still love deeply, they still care. They forgive. They live. Often it is the people who have been hurt the deepest whom refuse to be hardened in this world. If that is not something to be in awe of; I don't know what is.”
~ Original Author Unknown—Rewritten by Yours Truly
Here is a question for you. Has anyone out there ever read a really good book? I'm not talking about the kind of book you read in one afternoon, finish and think: "Well that was good" and then forget about it. I am talking about the hit you hard, where it hurts, inspires, helps and changes your entire perspective type of book. A book in which you find yourself completely immersed in the characters and genuinely care about their wellbeing. You are personally invested in every aspect of the lives of the characters in this book. I'm referring to the type of book that has the power to transform your thoughts, affects your actions, and allows you to escape the everyday routine that has become your life. A book, that when you finally finish, after taking time to read certain chapters more than once; you are shaken. Changed and amazed at the power the words have had over your own life.
No? Me neither... It was just a question to get your attention. Mostly. Okay not really, but I have your attention now. The book I described above? That is your life, as read by others. A choose your own adventure type of novel (if you are too young to remember those... ask your parents.) that seems to transcend time. One that often seems like a carousel of the same laughter at the same jokes, the same heartbreak, and the same daily rundown of activities. (Sleep, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat anyone?) You simply insert different characters, change the scenery, and throw a few bumps in the road along the way and this is your story. Your life. Imagine writing a page, just one, per day of your life. Your words will soon start to repeat themselves, the trials and tribulations all become the same. Your story becomes molded into those around you, intertwined like a fine thread. There are few of us who are brave enough to tell the truth in our stories. We all embellish here and there (and if you are shaking your head thinking "no I don't"—find a mirror and take a long look, we all do it) to make our story a little more exciting. More enticing to draw others in. While this may momentarily draw others into your story, and subsequently in your life, these "white lies" do not keep them there.
So what does? What makes a story so powerful that people stick around to find out what happens next? What person on this planet has a story so different, so unbelievably unique, that it stands out. It stands so much taller than all of the others yelling out:
"Read Me!! This is the only story you’ll ever need!!”
The answer is simple; you do. I do. Your neighbor, mother, brother, sister, postman, teachers, bosses, and co-workers do. We all have our story deep within waiting to be written. Waiting to be told. Just waiting to inspire and bring others to their knees with the skill, talent, brutal honesty, and true power that a genuine and magnificent story embodies.
My story? Wow. I can honestly say that there are parts of my life that I don't care to revisit. I don't talk about. Ever. I have parts that I would live over and over again, parts that I am proud of and parts in which I was not at my best. Often, I look back at the multitude of things that I have seen things that I have done; there are complete chapters that I skim through thinking to myself. This is not me, this is not who I am. No, it is not who I am today, but it is a part of my story. It is all still a part of me. Those parts that seem as if the pages were ripped out of someone else's book and placed into mine. These parts are the parts that have made me who I am today. Every heartbreak, every truth, every unimaginable minuscule and major thing; they have all led me here. God's plan. Or if you are a non-believer, someone or something's plan.
I have gone from bitter and unforgiving to hopeful and loving. I trust the people in my life. Until I am given a reason not to. I forgive, not for others, but for myself. What kind of person would I be if I punished those in my present for the actions of those in my past? Not a very happy one, that's for sure. My capacity to love even after being torn and broken (worse than anyone ever in the history of time if you ask my younger self...) is nothing short of astonishing. The walls I have built, are slowly falling down, because... why not? There are many, a majority actually, of people that would have not survived my story. I did though. I am here to tell it; honestly, unfiltered, and candidly—if I can't laugh at some of the crazy and dangerous stuff I have been through, I wouldn't make it in life. Period. I wouldn't be here to write this, and you would be reading some mundane article about Gluten-Free muffins or taking the "Which Spice Girl Are You" quiz on Facebook.
I read something the other day that said: The Next Chapter is Always the Best Chapter . While I do somewhat agree with that, the best is yet to come and all of that cliche rhetoric, I'm not so jaded to think that life is all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. (Despite Lesley Gore's opinion... again, if you don't get that one, ask your parents...). I am going to drop a huge truth bomb on you here... so take a minute, sit down, find a friend, do whatever it is you need to do to prepare yourself for this.
Life is HARD. People really only care about you as long as you are of some use to them. We live in a world where the most important things to us are material. Status is actually coveted, regardless of how it was achieved (Kardashian anyone?). People are selfish. If you find someone who is different, someone who truly cares more about you and your wellbeing more than that of their own, often putting your needs above anything else, someone with patience and genuine kindness? Hold on. Hold on tight and do NOT for any reason let go of them. These people are rare. Life throws us so many curve balls that, often, ducking and weaving are the only options we have. Be ready. Change your narrative. Adapt. Don't forget, this is your story you are writing. When life goes left? Go right. So here's the thing, the next chapter may be the best chapter, it may be mediocre, it may be the best piece of work ever written or it may be the last. The next chapter may never even have a chance to be written, or narrated by you.
Life is an ever-changing and unpredictable comet hurling towards Earth at speeds faster than the speed of light. Be ready to duck, weave, rise, fall, laugh, cry, hide, or put on one hell of a show because here is what I believe: The Best Chapter is Your Current Chapter. Think about that for a second, is your story like the one I described at the beginning of this post? Are you completely immersed? Cheering on the characters in your book? When your story is finished, will it leave an impression? Is your audience inspired, hit where it hurts or helped by your words and actions? Is it so powerful that once it is complete, hopefully many years from now, it will be one that is passed through history as truly powerful, honest, pure, and life changing? If not, maybe some self reflection is in order. Could it be time to change the narrative and finally get off that crazy carousel we all tend to find ourselves on? No one is going to push you off. Remember, this is a choose your own adventure novel. You are the author and main character of it, it is your story after-all.
Is your current chapter your best? Worst? If you are unhappy with it, end the chapter. Start a new one and make that the best chapter. That’s the thing about stories, they evolve, and change. The greatest book ever written has millions of authors; only you can write yours.