There are many elements that make up a great story:
- A central theme
- Strong three dimensional, dynamic characters that have changed over time.
- A protagonist, or main character. They must have a goal or objective they are trying to achieve as the story progresses. The effort to reach this goal should make them change or grow in some way over the course of the story.
- An antagonist which can be a person, place, thing (autism), event, or set of circumstances—something that works against the protagonist, trying to prevent them from achieving their goal.
- Most importantly a story must have conflict.
- And an arch, when everything gets better or worse.
Conflict is absolutely CRUCIAL to the creation of a good story. Isn't that ironic? We don't want it in our lives, but we need it in our stories so they can have meaning and purpose. I'll even say a good story can not exist without conflict.
Think about your favorite movie. It's not all rainbows and unicorns- is it? Even the kiddy movies contain chaos and discord. I realized that today when watching Finding Nemo for the eleventy-hundredth time. Nemo's fish siblings and his own Mother is murdered by a shark. That's heavy stuff. But it's Life, complete with its painful moments that feel unbearable when we are breathing through them. What if Finding Nemo was simply about a family of fish? No shark attack. No Nemo abduction. No treck made by Marlin and Dory. No short term memory loss for Dory- because that makes life and loving harder for her.
So here we are, left with a bunch of fish swimming in the ocean, back and forth...And that's all. Who wants to watch that?
I asked Frank to text me a few minutes before turning onto our street today. Once I got that text, we just so happened to go out front to play. Greyson has been too overwhelmed to go out the past two Wednesdays.
Greyson was on a plug your ears kick all day today, well before the trash truck arrived. He's so quirky, it's one of the things I love most about him.
We heard the rumble and Greyson was spellbound.
And we saw our Friend.
Doodle even stayed awake for the fun.
Frank showed Parker his Magic truck.
And gained a Friend for Life. Parker LOVES Frank. He even gave him kisses AND pooped his pants while Frank was holding him. TRUE LOVE.
If anyone wants to send Frank a message, he gave me permission to share his email address. firstname.lastname@example.org
And after Trash Truck Wednesday, we went to fight our antagonist- Speech Delay- which is one of autism's very best friends.
Here we are at Speech Therapy today. It's dark because I asked to turn the overheard lights off.
I was reading Temple Grandin over the weekend. She is a bestselling author, autistic activist, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. Grandin has Super Powers, in the form of Aspergers- which is an autism spectrum disorder.
Grandin says some autistic people are bothered by fluorescent lights because they can see the flicker of the 60-cycle electricity. She recommends that you avoid this problem by placing the child's desk near the window or try to avoid using fluorescent lights all together.
Grey was less stimmy, flappy, ticky and needing big hugs and squeezes during Speech- but a trial of one session isn't enough to go on. Autism is often unpredictable and frequently changing daily anyway, and extremely different from person to person. There's a quote- If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism. We will have to try no lights a few times to see if the results carry over.
Donald Miller, author of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, is the absolute genius who first introduced me to the concept of making sure our real lives have all the elements of a good story.
If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.
But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.
I read his book well before super powers were a part of my life. God absolutely was helping to prepare me and knew those words would speak to me. I longed for my own Life story to call me to greatness. I felt like the guy with the Volvo- happy, but just going through the motions. I felt like I knew one day my real story would happen, yet I didn't know how. I was afraid I would let fear get in the way and cause me to live a safe and unremarkable Life.
And today I had the overwhelming realization that pretty much blew my mind. Our story is not great despite autism. Our story is great because of autism. This thing that I love to hate. This thing that has potentially robbed us of so much, also creates a life rich with potential and purpose, hard work and love. If autism didn't exist I would be a Mom, striving for traditional perfection, living in my track home, playing it completely safe day after day. I would focus on things for my boys and for my life, that I now realize, thanks to autism, have absolutely no importance when compared to what means the most to me now.
Autism is one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Because of autism, woven throughout my real life is meaning and purpose and a deep gratitude for the world and the people in it. And autism will continue to teach me until the day I die. Because of autism, my heart and my mind and my soul have been transformed. Even pain is a great teacher when you allow yourself to be a student.
Look around you now. What is the world trying to teach you? Sometimes all it takes is for us to be quiet and just listen.
Miller's is so chock full of truth... And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can't go back to being normal; you can't go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.
God didn't give me this story because I could handle it. I don't think He wants any of us to suffer just because we can. I think God gave me this story because He knew I would appreciate it and share it with the world.
Thanks for being here with us.
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