This Week, I Held My Breath…
I Held My Breath
This week, I Held My Breath For 22 Hours, 47 Minutes, And 15 Seconds
Between October 14 and October 16, 1987, I also held my breath. And afterward, I cried.
Jessica McClure, an 18-month old Texan, had fallen down a well, through an 8″-wide casing. For 58 hours, the whole world watched and waited. It was impossible to imagine that she could survive.
Yet rescuers heard her crying and even singing. And when it was over, when Baby Jessica was brought to the surface by a volunteer, I cried too. And thanked God because she’d gotten her life back, and her parents had their little girl. It was like a miracle!
This week, a new but similar story played out before our eyes. And as each Chilean was raised to safety, after being buried alive, I cried a little.
I think this new miracle is such a big story that it’s actually an archetype for storytelling – mostly because of the spontaneous gratitude it brings out in people. Gratitude is an element of redemption in any story fiction or not.
And the Chilean story is a story of redemption, pure and simple. The lesson for the writer: Happy endings are best. Stick one at the end of your story – even if there’s sorrow mixed in with it. Give your reader something to be grateful for.
Remember the Kursk?
In 2000, we knew something of what was happening in that sinking submarine before all hope was lost for the 23 Russian submariners trapped in a flooding compartment. I was in Morocco at the time, traveling with my sidekick @shelrev (see previous post), and we followed the rescue attempts over 5 days.
These stories don’t always have happy endings.
Sometimes we hear the horrifying details of ordeals we can’t imagine enduring for ourselves, and we weep for a different reason. We even say a prayer. But when things end badly, we put them out of our thoughts. Tragedy is like burning coal in our hands. We can’t handle it for long, can’t bear to think that while we slept in our warm beds, people were dying painful deaths – cold, and afraid.
But the gratitude we feel when a story ends well can last a lifetime. Be grateful for something today. Write about it. And if you haven’t before now, try gratitude on for size and see how it fits.