The line between my writing life and my personal life is very thin. Because I write fiction, I take what I learn about life and apply it to my writing. I also take what I learn about writing and apply it to life.
For instance, in fiction everyone has a point of view. A villain is the hero in his own story, right? There is no absolute truth. Not in fiction; not in life. There is only point of view. This is a theme I have explored in fiction before…and will likely explore again.
Right around my anniversary, a younger friend said to me, “Wow, 23 years.” (As though 23 years is really all that long. It doesn’t feel so long to me anymore.) “What’s your secret?” At the time I shrugged and said, “I don’t know.” But I spent nine hours on the road yesterday…and I realized I not only know the secret to a happy marriage; I believe I also know the secret to a happy life. And that is to be willing to meet each person you meet halfway.You can’t just SAY you’ll meet someone halfway; you have to actually do it. Even when you know for a fact that you are right and they are wrong.
If you know without a doubt that it was 6:30 when your spouse got home (because you looked at the clock) and your spouse says, “No, it was 6:15,”…in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what time he got home? You need to recognize that your spouse has a point of view, too. He wouldn’t say he got home at 6:15 if he didn’t believe it for some reason. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. It was probably 6:22 ½ when he got home. And if you can let go of your need to make him come around to your line of thinking and just meet him halfway, you’re going to have a much happier marriage than you are if you can’t do that.
I think my husband and I do this. Most of the time. And I believe the ability to do this is not only the secret to a happy marriage, it’s also the secret to a happy life.
Granted, that was a pretty sad example of a disagreement. But I really do believe that any disagreement can be resolved if both parties are willing to meet each other halfway.
Unfortunately, not everyone believes that. Someone who has been pretty close to me is having a hard time on several fronts right now. She doesn’t need trouble with me, too. But she believes “there is no in between.” I feel scared for her when I hear her say this. I think someone who truly believes this is in for a sad and lonely life because they’re going to alienate anyone who is close to them.
There’s ALWAYS middle ground…isn’t there?
This is so fundamental to how I want to live my life that I have a hard time dealing with people who feel otherwise. It’s who I am/who I want to be. My religious views are in the middle…so are my political views. If you are my friend and you tell me about a conflict you’re having, I am very likely to play devil’s advocate and at least THINK about the situation from the other person’s point of view…and if we’re really good friends, I may very well come right out and tell you the other point of view. (My husband is that way, too…there have been times I have not appreciated that quality in him, but when I think about it, his ability to see the other side is probably one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place.)
I even write this way. I was thinking about this on my long drive yesterday, too. Most of my books do not resolve with the character getting exactly what he/she wanted from the beginning. Instead the character gets some sort of compromise…which actually turns out to be better for him than what he/she wanted in the first place.
Is this a bad thing? I like to think not.
Or am I wrong? Are there situations/conflicts where there is no middle ground?