How Do You See Others?

Hello, fellow fence jumpers! It has been close to a year since I last stepped deep into the Cow Pasture. Like many of you have been caught up in the strange world of Covid-19, the quarantines, rules, regs, and controversies. It feels as if I have stepped from my world onto another planet.

Uncertainty, fear, isolation, social unrest, censorship, confusion, and even a cultural war have dominated the past year. All of which, looking through a writer’s eye, would make a great start to a sci-fi novel.

So, I sat back and thought about what was happening. The first thing I noticed was how superficial we had become.

Fear does strange things to people. It makes some of us vulnerable, some of us dig down and find our courage and push through, and others become opportunists. The vulnerable retreat to safety to wait out the worst; the courageous push forward and find ways through the challenges, and the opportunistic exploit and take advantage of the situation. It is the opportunists narrative we hear the loudest. And as a result, we stop listening, talking, or hearing each other. We hunker down in homes, groups, or “tribes,” throw ourselves into survival mode, and all the while our world vision narrows to the point we could no longer see others. Really see them.

We have become a nation of paper cut-out people, flat characters who define each other by our most basic and outward traits. Most notably, the color of our skin, political affiliation, or the values we espouse. But, as writers, we know that people are not flat. They are not just a color of skin, or a profession, or gender, or any of those outward characteristics, traits, or appearance.

When writers begin the process of character development outward, physical characteristics such as height, weight, gender, hair/eye color, dress, and so on are the things that we build upon to create living characters. But at that point, all we have is a paper cut out, a sketch. It is by no means the sum of the personality we are developing. We research, plot, plan, and delve into the revealing, intricacies, and intimate details that make our character a person. We want to know what makes them tick, why and how they make decisions, what influences them, or what makes the character act or curl up in a ball. We want to know their biases, preferences, desires, hopes, dreams, deep dark secrets, and the history of their failures. Those things make our character come to life, leap off the pages of our story, and relatable.

Not one is defined solely by how they look. As writers, we expect more from ourselves and would never settle for flat, paper cutout characters in our stories. Not if we want to call ourselves writers of worthy stories to tell.

Despite all the challenges we’ve faced in the past year, it became clear to me what we need to do. First, we should never give in to the temptation to see others through the lens of what they look like or what group they belong. Each of us is a whole, complex person, made up of our unique life experiences. You can’t tell that by looking at someone from the outside. Two, we should always refuse to accept the narrative of superficial labels. Three, make it a mission to get to know people.

We live in a beautiful free country where every individual deserves respect and to be seen as a whole person. A character of their own making and the way they look is just the beginning. They have a history, an intimate story to tell, complexities unseen by our eyes. But when we take the time to speak to each other, to talk, and to listen, to really listen, we often discover a friend.

As writers, we always strive to be better writers. As one of the millions of characters in this big beautiful world we inhabit together, we should expect nothing less of ourselves than to strive to be a better person. Look beyond watch you see. Dig deeper, reach out your hand and make a new friend. After all, we’re in this together.



I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on my Facebook Pageat SheilaMcIntyreGood,PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgoodContently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Look Fear in the Face and Kick

Sink or Swim

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You’ve heard the adage, sink or swim. It’s a phrase often shared when one is facing something difficult, be it a choice, future, task, or survival. When we find ourselves with little recourse in life, sometimes all we have left is to take a leap of faith.

Sink or swim is a simple, to the point, and powerful statement. It offers only two choices – success or failure. It’s also an affirmation of what each of us is capable of doing.

I left home before the age of eighteen under difficult circumstances, moved to the city, thirty minutes from my home, and rented a one-room apartment. My apartment, situated on the top floor, consisted of a bedroom, unheated kitchen (unless you counted the oven) and a shared bathroom across the hall in an old, rundown house. Located in a “bad” section of town it was, thankfully, close to city transportation.

At seventeen, in school with only a part-time job, I was on my own, and anything after that was my doing. I could either wither under the pressure, let fear paralyze me, or soar under the wings of freedom. I could either sink or swim. I chose the latter.

I learned about public transportation, memorized the bus schedule, and discovered the power underneath my legs. If the bus didn’t go in my direction, my legs did. I penny-pinched and learned the value of a dollar. I studied hard, made friends, and fought back the fear of unchartered territory with determination and confidence I didn’t feel until much later.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Two years later, I would graduate nursing school, marry, and begin a family. To this day, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and left memories that still bring a smile to my face. At seventeen, I looked fear in the face and I kicked.

“Faith is believing that one of two things will happen. That there will be something solid for you to stand on or that you will be taught to fly.” Unknown