In Real Life there are Always More than Two Doors

Reality is complex, it rarely offers two choices. We are often called to make decisions with not much to go on.

Because our formative years are the most filled with challenges and choices that will impact our future selves as we are in the process of discovering or deciding who we are, it's important we learn to approach questions from multiple sides.

Rebecca Stead's new book, Goodbye Stranger a novel about friendship, family, love, and the challenges facing middle school youth today — deals specifically with those challenges through the perspectives of the people who live them.

In an interview with The Guardian# Stead says:

The most formative were the ones she read around age 11 or 12, on the border between childhood and puberty. “For me, that time was an awakening,” she said. “I began to see more complexity in the world around me, I began to have different kinds of thoughts, I began to form deeper friendships. I think that a lot of that was inspired by the books that I was reading. For the first time, really, I had access to the internal lives of other people.

“They didn’t happen to be real people, because I was reading fiction, but the emotion was true,” she continued. “And so there was a way in which I was learning about myself by reading about the inner lives of people who didn’t exist. I think that’s one of the most important things that books do: not to teach you anything, but to help you teach yourself, by just being in the world of the book and having your own thoughts and reactions and noticing your own reactions and thoughts and learning about yourself that way.”

This is a process we all go through when reading stories, whether we're aware of it or not. If we want to invite more luck into our lives, we could read or reread great novels and plays and pay attention to the unlucky outcomes. What could the protagonists have done instead? How would we have approached the situation?

Great poets and writers are so because they learn to trust their readers:

Stead trusts her readers to be able to dig into that moral complexity. “I do try to write in ways that reflect reality,” she says, “and I think that reality is rarely simple. And often there aren’t two choices.” She mentions the ongoing riddle in the book, about two brothers standing in front of the door to heaven and the door to hell, and one character’s response: “People act like riddles are hard, but real life is harder. In real life, there are always more than two doors.”


[image via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain]

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