Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm The Heroine Of This Story

I woke up today feeling GREAT. Cheerfulness is not normally one of my morning qualities, so even I was a little surprised to notice my mouth was curving into a smile when the alarm went off.

I thought, This is going to be a fantastic day! I am going to conquer the world!

But I didn't conquer the world. Or at least I haven't yet.

I went to teach my 7:40 class, running late but making it to campus just in time to walk in the room and remember I hadn't made copies for an in-class activity. No matter, I inwardly encouraged, you can improvise!

I then turned on my computer and hooked it up to the podium so I could play a speech for my students to analyze. Although it's worked every time before, the electronic innards of the podium decided it didn't want to connect my computer to the projector. I had to buzz for a tech guy to come make everything work. It's okay, I consoled myself, you're a great teacher and can adapt!

I dismissed my students and waved the last one out, only to see that I'd forgotten to hand back about five pounds' worth of exams. My inner voice was running out of nice things to say to me.

I drove home, changed into sweats, and began working on lesson plans for the Thursday Teaching Marathon. I wrote a lesson plan. Threw back a cup of coffee. Started a second plan. Threw back a second cup of coffee. Realized that I'd mismatched textbook and syllabus for a lesson plan, deleted it, and started over.

My inner voice was grumbling. And despite the coffee, my outer body was really sleepy.

So I took a break, and read a few pages from Don Miller's new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Barnes & Noble says it isn't out yet, but it is and they sold it to me.

Don talks to a friend about what defines a story, and his friend tells him it's "a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." Don mulls this over, and talks about it with another friend who has a troubled daughter. This friend realizes that he has to apply the principle of story to his own family to help her. And it works.

In the movie, About A Boy, Hugh Grant's character talks about this idea of story by explaining his starring role:
The thing is, a person's life is like a TV show. I was the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn't an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but I was the regular. It came down to me and me alone. If Marcus' mum couldn't manage her own show, if her ratings were falling, it was sad, but that was her problem. Ultimately, the whole single mum plot line was a bit complicated for me.
Hugh Grants tends to play selfish (yet somehow lovable) jerks, but here he has a point. You are the main character in your story, I'm the main character in mine, and we are responsible for what we do with them. And if, like Don's friend, we realize things aren't going the way we want, we need to do something to create a better story.

I put down A Million Miles, pulled on some jeans, and went grocery shopping. And while it might not seem like a big step in advancing the story, it started me in the right direction. I'm typing away now, back home, munching on a custard-filled donut and slurping my third cup of coffee. I'm energized. I've reframed my mistakes and problems as conflict necessary to my story.

And I know that as the heroine in my own story, I will conquer them.


CanAmGirl said...

Three cups of coffee? So apparently the main character in your life story has abandoned the "treat" response to caffination and has returned to IV status ;)

Kiki said...

You fail to mention the total number of coffees that you drank...