It is rare that a story stuns me.
I chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower from Redbox on Sunday night because Emma Watson is in it and it had good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. As the movie ended I had tears in my eyes. They weren’t from sadness or because of the story, well, perhaps so, on the level of story, but the deeper, more profound reason for my tears was how the story was written, told, expressed. This is one of those stories that after being exposed to it I whisper to myself, “That’s what I want to write. This is the impact I want to have on my readers. This. This feeling I’m having right now.”
Full, rich, complete characters, and well-written stories within well-written stories, and no false notes, and… okay, to top it off, the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, wrote the screenplay AND directed the movie. How completely perfect is THAT for realizing your dream?! I’m in awe at the moment and deeply inspired. I whisper, “I will write stories that allow others feel the way I feel tonight.”
“We are formed by what we desire. In less than a minute of excited, secretive longing, I desired to become a writer and to have sex with Miss Frost—not necessarily in that order.”
Recently, I’ve been devouring Irving’s books. Prior to In One Person I read Last Night in Twisted River, which I loved. I’m now revisiting his fourth novel from 1978, The World According to Garp, because that was his “breakthrough” book. I want to feel what a story like that feels like right now.
In December, I announced here that I had applied for the Masters in Fine Arts program in Literary Arts at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Monday morning, less than twelve hours after being awed while experiencing Perks, I received notification that my application was not accepted. Lindi and I will not be moving east in the fall. Disappointing? Of course. The dream of having two years to focus solely on writing, being with other writers and teachers of writing, researching, and creating my stories was certainly enticing. And right after watching this incredible movie with Emma Watson, who went to Brown, for crying out loud? I mean, c’mon, Universe! What’s up with that?
Yet with Monday’s news that piece of uncertainty in my life has now become certain. So, I ask myself today, “What’s next?”
I opened More Notes from the Universe, by Mike Dooley, to a random page; page 83.
“It doesn’t matter what ‘they’ do. Your net worth, net health, and net happiness all hinge exclusively upon your net thoughts, net words, and net deeds. Though little can rob you as quickly as thinking it matters what ‘they’ do. You’ve got the power.”
Okay, so that’s just about the perfect reminder at exactly the appropriate moment. Then in the midst of my pondering “what’s next”, a friend of mine announced on Facebook that he had a bunch of packing boxes that someone could have within the next couple hours or else he was going to take them to the recycling center. I went over to pick them up. “So what are you doing, James?” I asked. “Moving?”
“I’m going to school in California to become certified as a Raw Foods Chef.”
“That’s fantastic! Lindi and I have been moving more and more toward a raw diet. Then what will you do?” I asked. “Open a restaurant?
“I don’t know!” James laughed. “I’m just following my passion.”
I threw my arms around him. “I’m so excited for you.”
What I didn’t say was “thanks for saying exactly the right thing, James.” My brief encounter with him offered yet another living demonstration of the importance of loving what we’re doing and living our life fully each day and following our passion. Planning for what we’re going to do later is far less important than what we choose to do now. For as Charlie so perfectly points out in The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“Right now we are alive and in this moment I swear we are infinite.”