There is more than one ending to a story. When I was a kid, Choose Your Own adventure books fascinated me. The writing was so-so, but I loved that a character wasn’t locked in to a storyline. It recognized human nature is nuanced. A character could make so many decisions. The plot twist changed depending on the choices and actions of the characters. No matter what course I chose for the main character, there was always a plot twist. Always the moment where everything seemed lost, dark and unavoidable. There was never an option where the character went through the days from point A to point B without anything ever happening. Authors recognized the characters could make any decision and there would be consequences for that decision, and they weren’t afraid of that.
It is the story that most mirrors life, even if we don’t like it.
We like our fiction to be dark and filled with the lost night of the soul, because the redemption that comes at the end is freeing. But in our lives? We want the nice happy, apple pie, no fuss ending. We want to wake up and go to sleep without our stories being interrupted.
But there’s no plot twist in that, is there? And if there is no plot twist, there are no consequences, and if there are no consequences, how do we ever embrace life?
I am reading a really difficult book right now. A really difficult, beautiful, joy filled book. It is written by a woman, just a few years older than I, who faced a cancer journey I can’t even fathom. Aggressive breast cancer that took over her body.
But didn’t overtake her heart.
The thing about a plot twist is it propels a character into action. The story has changed and the lay of the land is no longer what is expected. A character cannot roll up into a ball and not do anything.
With a plot twist, decisions have to be made and consequences will follow, good or bad. What we want, or what we don’t want. And those consequences cause us to make other decisions. And that is what living life is.
The only certainty is that inaction isn’t a possibility anymore. We are going to grow and change from that hard, difficult moment. And that is pure beauty.
Kara, in her plot twist, chose joy not regret. Love not bitterness. Hope not fear. What a story. What an ending. Even in her last days she exuded a peace that still brings me comfort.
The consequence of her decision? A joy filled ending to a story cut short too soon. She is a strong example of how to live when the plot twist happens.
My own plot twist came at age 28. Just a short ten years ago. My life wasn’t the picture of rainbows and unicorns I expected when I was a little girl. It brushed up against the heartbreak of disease that Kara mentioned. And in that moment, before I ever read the words of this woman, I chose joy.
At my plot twist, I chose to live with the unshakeable belief that I was not alone, nor would I ever be alone. No matter what happened in my story. That decision had consequences.
It changed my life.
I became stronger. I stopped being afraid. I started dreaming again. It taught me that hard things can be good. Beauty can come from ashes.
I made it through radiation. Three anxiety inducing scans. I ran a marathon. A half dozen half marathons. I lost 42 pounds. I wrote two books.
It isn’t the life I thought I’d live at the beginning of my life.
But I’m so glad it is the life I’m living now.
And the plot twist could have been anything, the important part is what I did in that darkest spot, when I thought life was over.
Today, think about your own plot twist. Or maybe, you are teetering on the edge of a new plot twist. Remember, there are so many paths you can choose. There isn’t just one story and one ending.
You. You get to pick what happens next.
And regardless of what happens, there will be redemption of your story.