Thursday, September 25, 2014

THE (ETERNAL) PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Or: the search for...something 


Two types of people inhabit our planet. Those who search, and those who've found. 
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Occasionally, we find fictional characters that echo our personalities and quirks. For authors, they may be characters we drew from the depths of our psyche. Out of the many people I’ve given life to, the one that resonates most with me might be Lea, one of two protagonists in my upcoming book Divide and Conquer. The other, Nieve, is confident, a seasoned warrior, deadly to her enemies. She doesn’t have everything she wants, but she’s ahead of the curve, because she knows what her heart desires. And she’s tantalizingly close to getting it. Not at all like the emotionally conflicted Lea.

Lea is a twenty-five year old physicist. Her inner mule prevents her from accepting her parents’ help in landing a dream job in research, and instead, she settles for employment as a technical translator. Hardly the platform to becoming one of life’s unsung heroes, the men and women who work tirelessly to explore our universe.

When Nieve whisks her away to Elonia, a realm that defies the rules of nature, Lea’s map of the world needs a serious rewrite. She inches her way to a better understanding of the inherent magic singing in her veins, but she never really feels at home in her skin.

Although I made sure Lea had a smile on her lips on the last page, it was important to me not to solve all her problems. Not just because I have a sequel planned, but because life isn’t that perfect. Especially not for people like her. Lea searches for...something. Trouble is, she can’t pinpoint what this something might be. She makes friends, gets a new job and a chance at a relationship. But despite her accomplishments, is she content? Are people like her ever content for long?

What’s wrong with me?


Whether we’re twenty-five or seventy-five, many of us feel like her, at least sometimes. We can’t shake the idea that we’re meant for something different. Perhaps even something greater. We watch our friends get the things we think we want - a happy marriage, three adorable children, a thriving career, glamorous vacations, or expensive cars - and question why we don't.

We’re not jealous or envious. Not really. Yet we can’t help wonder at what point our lives veered off the road to success. There’s nothing wrong with us for feeling that way. To give our affliction a positive twist, you might say we’re not about the result, but all about the journey. A highly Buddhist attitude. But without the glossy varnish of spin, the truth is like a slap in the face. We may never be satisfied. We keep trying, failing, looking here, turning over a stone there.

It’s a tiring life we lead.

We could learn a lot from the Nieves of the world, who accept facts for absolute truths. Who seek validation from those around them, but don’t rely on it.

That said, sometimes I revel in my floundering lifestyle. It’s nice to dream of heights not yet reached. Of wells still untapped. And finding a character like Lea who shares my mindset is reassuring. I’m not alone. Together, we truck on, in search of the elusive something.

Carmen Fox
visit me at www.carmen-fox.com

4 comments:

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I was like Lea until I was in my forties. Then I learned not to envy anyone else's "normal".

The journey toward our goals is the ticket to happiness.

Carmen Fox said...

That's good to know. It's frightening that others often seem more together than I am... Expressing this searching spirit in Lea's voice is highly therapeutic... :-)

Olga Godim said...

Until I started writing in my late 40s I often though 'What's wrong with me? Why am I different from everyone else? Why can't I be the same?' It's hard to be different, and as far as I know, everyone who is different asks herself the same question. Then I found my writing and discovered that most writers ask themselves the same questions. I finally found my 'tribe.' :))

Carmen Fox said...

That's a nice way of thinking, Olga. Well put. :-)