When someone new comes into your life, do you use the time to really see them, or do you merely take what’s on the surface, give them their due, and move forward with whoever, and whatever else is included in your agenda? In other words, when was the last time you actually seized an opportunity to get to really know another human being? I ask this because in the fast-paced, super competitive world we live in; having healthy, supportive, emotional connections with others is becoming much rarer.
My last article discussed the new ways we communicate, and how all the electronic gizmos we use are pretty much destroying our ability to converse personally. But, when you do meet someone within your personal striking distance (arm’s length) and give them your undivided attention, how much do you actually see? Their emotions, mannerisms, habits, likes, dislikes, expressions when they laugh or cry, what’s that certain thing which triggers their dark side, their angry side, their second personality, so to speak. What is it about them that cause’s your pulse to race and loins to jump if sexually aroused? What do you actually feel making you believe they could be a longtime friend, husband, wife, business partner, or even soul mate?
I was recently watching a taped question-and-answer session with the great writer, Stephen King. One of the questions asked was how he created his characters and what leads to placing them on paper. What was it causing him to explore their characteristics further, making them part of a story, even becoming a lead protagonist? His answers were simple, very simple, for a man who’s considered a legend of pen-and-paper: Undisturbed focus, attention to the smallest of details, deeply listening to the tone of their words and most miniscule habits, a change in body language as their moods swing from happy to angry and overall, a willingness to invest the time in another mind. He said these people live inside him--he knows them, he watches them. Of course, Mr. King is a writer of fiction so these characters obviously live inside his head, but doesn’t this way of having a personal relationship oftentimes apply to our real lives? Sadly, as I said above, it’s becoming a lot rarer.
I read a report lately that stated for the first time in history there are a smaller percentage of both, men and women willing to marry, or even date. That people are beginning to shun the traditional union of man and woman, and marriage is only considered for either financial or procreative reasons. Happiness, to obviously many, is being found in other things such as careers, sports, hobbies, religion, and single motherhood. No longer is finding a true soul mate at the top of someone’s list, and unfortunately, it parallels a liberal way of thinking.
When I first started writing (and I haven’t for very long), the first draft of my novel was around 420 pages. I had an idea for the story and created it as I wrote. After I forwarded it to my editor, and she aggressively whittled away using her pen filled with fire-red ink, it was eventually finished at approximately 100 pages less. So, what happened to all the hard work I did? Simply put, a great deal of my time wasn’t spent on characterization—getting the reader to actually know the characters, in great detail. In retrospect, I was basically taught how to make the visions in my head into living, breathing human beings. I’m going off the subject a little here, but this applies to real life.
Most of us have a group of friends we like to hang out with. They’re our closest companions, confidants, ones we call for social companionship, the people we think of first whenever there’s a major event we’d like to share. But, when you take inventory of their faces, how deep are your connections? Do you know their favorite colors, flavor of ice cream, do they prefer Elvis or the Beetles, and how about their saddest or greatest moments in life thus far? Now, I’m not at all saying we should know every little detail about someone else, but making the effort to etch beyond their surface signifies our desire to learn, therefore deepening our connections with each other.
Christmas, and the holidays are a great time to know someone better, but making occasions the other eleven months of the year could be opportunities as well.
Thanks for listening…