Interruptions and Happy Endings

Stories That Shape Us
July 26, 2012
Stories with Shelf Life
August 8, 2012


A colleague once told me that we are constantly seeking resolution for our own stories. I believe her. She also told me that we are consistently seeking happy endings for the trauma in our life. This means, practically, that we deal daily with not only new people and new events, but we are consistently seeking resolution for what happened yesterday, last week, or last year.

How does this impact the stories we are writing? Think about it. How much of your day today is being spent trying to bring resolution to something that was started a while ago? And what have you started today that will linger in to tomorrow?

Now, let’s look at it differently. Maybe you received an urgent phone call, bad news from the doctor, or you simply had expectations dashed or unmet and suddenly the narrative of your life has been interrupted. It’s as if you were standing in line at the checkout with your small basket of Crest toothpaste, skim milk, Nestle toll house chips, and Wheat Sandwich bread, when suddenly a large man steps in front of you with 10 Banquet frozen dinner, two cases of Bud Light, Cool Ranch Doritos, three pounds of ground beef, four frozen pizzas, a pack of Oreos, some laundry detergent, and a twelve pack of Diet Coke.

There you were minding your own business, lulled away for an instant by the new picture of the Princess, Kate Middleton, and now this ‘express lane’ is suddenly a giant mess. How will you respond? Will you tap in to the negativity you’re feeling, watching this large man cut in front of you, perpetuating a narrative of victim, bad luck, or simple frustration? Or will you consider yourself part of a more positive narrative, one that brings good news to a fractured world? As that beast places his items on the conveyor belt, there is an interruption to confront.

J.R.R. Tolkien, in his essay entitled “On Fairy Stories,” makes this observation: “The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the “happy ending.” The Christian has still to work, with mind as well as body, to suffer, hope, and die; but he may now perceive that all his bents and faculties have a purpose, which can be redeemed.”

Some interruptions don’t go away, but Tolkien’s words remain helpful in that regard as well. There is still work to do, it’s purposeful, and redeemable. And it’s worth the extra effort because the stories we are part of are sacred or hallowed and there’s a happy ending to embrace both now and in the future.

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