Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seeing and Believing

We may hear "I won't believe it until I see it," yet wise people know that we won't see it unless we first believe it.

I found these words yesterday in my Daily Word, the little inspirational book I read every morning. I was struck by the truth of this simple observation. Our reality, our vision, is profoundly shaped by our expectations and beliefs.

My mother was a brilliant and talented woman who by any objective measure had a successful life. She was married for fifteen years, had three healthy children, brought them up to be decent, self-reliant, basically happy people. She graduated first in her high school and college classes. She had careers as a commercial artist, a dancer, and a teacher. She was politically active, supporting liberal causes and even running for the state legislature. She could sing like an angel, cook like a professional chef, and create a dynamite Halloween costume from scraps.

Alas, she believed that nothing good would come to her, that she would always get the short end of the stick. So she focused on the negatives in her life: the fact that she went to a state university rather than an Ivy League; the fact that she didn't become a lawyer as she had dreamed; the fact that she lost the election; the fact that my father divorced her. She expected to be disappointed. She believed that she was unlucky. And thus, in her eyes, she was. Instead of celebrating her achievements, she was bitter about what she felt had been stolen from her. She saw what she believed.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who have handicaps, physical or mental, yet still manage to press on and make a contribution to life. I've encountered quite a few of these brave, cheerful souls on the 'net. Some of them write romance. Recently I read a guest blog by a woman who was paralyzed from the neck down by a stroke. After watching television and being bored for a year, she decided she would try to write. She learned to use the computerized tools available now for the disabled. She is now a successful children's author with several books to her credit. She believed that she could move past the tragedy of her stroke and create something new, and she did.

Being an author certainly requires belief in any case. Otherwise we'd never dare send our stories off for anyone to see. You have to be able to imagine someone else reading and enjoying your words. You have to believe that you're good enough.

Actually, I think some excellent writers get stuck at this point. They spend years polishing a novel, worrying it like a dog with a bone, but can't quite get up the courage to submit it to a publisher.

The lesson is clear. Believe that you can succeed. Believe that you can realize your dreams (though you have to be ready to accept some detours that the universe might throw in your path). Look for the good in your life and you will find it. Expect the best and you will not be disappointed.

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