Wisdom From the Sage

I've been scavenging through writing prompt books as of late, to encourage my writing and  wanted to share one I completed recently.  I highly recommend it as it helped me put a lot of things in perspective.

From The Writer's Idea BookPrepare a list of interview questions for someone you admire.  No question is inappropriate.  Try to really find out what makes them tick.  Now look at the questions as if someone was asking them to you.  Answer them. 

Here's some of my response to the prompt (heavily edited, believe it or not, to spare you too much boredom and pomposity) with a caveat.  I do not in any way think I am all-knowing and accomplished enough to be answering some of these huge questions, but I do think it's fun, and worthwhile to try.

     (Everything I ever needed to know about life, I learned from this book)

Do you believe things happen for a reason?  That there’s some kind of a plan?
I do, with emphasis on the word "believe".  And I hope they do.  But I could never begin to understand what that reason things happen is.  

Do I believe there is a set plan, and that I’m like a pencil performing a dot-to-dot by rote,  going from one predetermined point to another?  No, I think life's more open than that.  I think that life is for us to grow, to keep becoming ourselves until we reach an apex.  The world/universe/God keeps putting experiences in our path for us to learn from until we've gotten from them what we were supposed to.  Can we avoid some experiences?  Yeah, but new ones will come to us with the same purpose in mind.  And they'll be more and more obvious what they are supposed to be teaching, until finally we are hit over the head (if that's what we need) and say "Oh, ok, I get it."  So, yeah, I think there are plans, many plans, all for our ultimate good.  And I think we can make it easier on ourselves, or harder. 
Are you grateful for the bad things that have happened in your life as well as the good?

No.  Not all of them.  Am I grateful that I was held back in the seventh grade?  Yes, because it altered my life completely and I met some very different, very wonderful people as a result.  But if I hadn’t?  If I'd gotten my act together and passed on, Mightn’t those people I met have been equally if not more wonderful?  And do all paths end up leading us as people, to the same point?  I don’t know.  I’d like to go back and make different decisions just to see what would have happened, what else I might have experienced as a result.  Am I grateful that my grandmother died?  No.  I dealt with it, and everyone has to go at some point, but I’m not grateful. 

 Do you think it’s possible for you to change at this point in your life, or do you think your flaws are your flaws for better or worse and there’s no getting around them, just dealing with them?

I think that yes, it’s possible to change and grow, or what’s the point?  But I also think that some challenges are with a person for as long as he lives.  They may go away for a bit, but they are just a breath away from coming back.  Sometimes I'll be in charge of my issues and other times not.  Some of them I will have beaten eventually, according to other people's definition of that word, but not my own. 
Take our addictions.  We may come to a point where we don't succumb to them every day, or ever, but they still have a pull on us, and sometimes a very strong pull.  With hard work we might get to the point where we learn to control and manage our dark cravings, but those demons don’t ever really go away, or if they do they are still closer than we may think. 

I think we each have a certain set of challenges in our life that are ours.  And they define us.  They are uniquely ours and we can make them tools or obstacles.   

 What kinds of stories are you attracted to?  Stories with magic.  Because magical properties are a great way to illuminate or point up the truth.  Magic is one way of raising the stakes.  It makes anything possible.  You can raise to greater heights or lower depths when magic is involved.  That’s why I love these stories.  One of my favorite movies is  Bell, Book and Candle with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, partly because it stretches the boundaries of what is possible.  What happens when a beautiful bohemian witch, who physically cannot cry, learns how?  A really good story, in my opinion.




Joe Hartman