Plotting to Have a Life


It has been pointed out to me that I’m not the most ambitious human being in the world.  Aside from my powerful and unaccountable drive to produce and perfect unpublishable novels (I get up early and stay up late to write them), “good enough” is always good enough for me.  Ask me where I see myself in five years, and I’m prone to blurt idiotically, “Why?  What’ve you got in mind?” because other than to spend as many hours as possible per day writing, I have no clear-cut goal in life beyond a general desire to enjoy it.  In consequence of my lackadaisical attitude, my lifetime accomplishments so far can be numbered on the fingers of one hand—fewer, if you don’t count the time I qualified for a First Aid badge by accident because I was too embarrassed to admit that I’d wandered into the wrong room at Red Cross headquarters.

My daughter says I may need a Life Coach.

Other than to spend as many hours as possible per day writing, I have no clear-cut goal in life beyond a general desire to enjoy it

As I have hinted, I’m old, and frankly a little out of things.  The concept of requiring coaching to be able eat, sleep, breathe and, occasionally, to think—the activities, as I see it, that distinguish the living from the dead—is a new  one to me.  But I asked around, and sure enough, it turned out that one of my friends actually had a Life Coach at one time.  She told me all about it.

Coaching sessions, she says, began with her coach spritzing the room with a perfume mist chosen from a selection with names like “impetus” and “inspiration.”  This was to stimulate dormant or underperforming parts of her brain, which are, apparently, very susceptible to perfume.  The spritzing accomplished, the coach would then carefully question my friend to determine what her life goals were, and exactly what she would and would not be willing to give up to achieve them.  After six weeks of this exploration, Life Coach and Friend together drew up a Life Plan, a road-map that would guide her by the least-objectionable route her to her goals.  The whole process cost $1200.

“Worth every penny,” Friend assures me.

And I’m sure it was.  She’s been very successful.

I don’t have $1200 that I care to spend on a Life Coach, but I do love to plot novels, so I came up with an alternate idea and I like it so well that I’m going to recommend it to everyone.  I think we should all write ourselves—not Life Plans—but Life Plots.

I’ll start mine by summarizing my life story so far.  After all, what has already transpired has significance for what is still to come.  And I’ll be honest about it all, too—but brief.  This doesn’t need to be like one of those Russian novels with six hundred characters.

That done, I’ll get to the good part—the part of the story that hasn’t happened yet.  What will my protagonist (i.e., me) do next?  No cheating on this, either:  I won’t allow myself to write that I one day play the cello to a sell-out crowd in Carnegie Hall unless I also write my honest plan to take a lot of cello lessons and practice really, really hard first—both of which, frankly, I know in my heart  I’m not going to do.  But I could come up with a plausible story about how I learned to do some new thing.  Or I could mellow a little.  Not only—given my nature—would my mellowing constitute quite a plot-twist, but George Eliot already demonstrated with Silas Marner that having a character mellow is commercial, too.   I could also meet some interesting new people.  Of course, in order to meet new people, I’d have to get out more; so I’ll have to write that I start getting out more.  Whether the people I meet are interesting or not may depend upon where I get out to, so I’d better give that some consideration.

Also, maybe I should dress better.

I’ll write my life’s plot, and then I’ll live it—right down (I hope) to the scene where I die peacefully in my bed surrounded by my loved ones who are happy that I mellowed and got out more and dressed better, and also at least occasionally practiced playing the cello.  It’ll be great.  A literary masterpiece.

First, though, I’m going to spritz the room with perfume.  I can afford to.  I just saved myself $1200.

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