News item from Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED.”

Cover of "Carrie"

This is the opening line to Stephen King’s first published novel, CARRIE, a story about a poor little high-school girl with menstrual problems who uses her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on those who tease her. Sort of a man’s take on PMS!

I’m not, or at least I wasn’t, a huge fan of author Stephen King. Widely known for his populist horror thrillers, he’s sold bazillions of books, most of which have been made into movies with varying levels of success.

At this point, with his name recognition and popularity, Stephen King could write a COOKBOOK highlighting the culinary use of all of the bloody, dismembered human bodies he’s written of in his novels – now add in one cup of eviscerated intestine –  and it would become an instant bestseller. Fully-coloured, glossy photographs and all…it will make a great Christmas gift!  I’m envious and amazed at what King has accomplished in his genre of literature.

I could list for you a number of people in my own circle who I know and love that I think are amazing (I won’t because if I missed one by accident, I would look like a dick). There is also a bunch of well-known people in this world I admire. I may not necessarily LIKE them – I don’t need to like them, to appreciate their accomplishments – but I admire their creativity or thinking abilities, or physical prowess- and in either case, I think it comes down to the notion that they have developed amazing capabilities of focus and drive to make something where there was nothing before.

A current short list of these people for me might look like:

  • Stephen King
  • Aaron Sorkin– brilliant TV and movie screenwriter of superb dialogue with credits such as West Wing, The Newsroom, and The Social Network
  • Lance Armstrong– with or without drugs, he climbed mountains – competing against other similarly drug-pumped athletes – with fantastic determination and strength of will.
  • Hillary Clinton– unshakable and smart, and part of two “dream” teams of which she could easily have been the leader…Bill Clinton’s and Barak Obama’s.
  • Payton Manning– an NFL quarterback (silly, I know) who plays a brawny game like a brainy chess master.
  • Sarah McLachlan- Canadian singer/songwriter with such a great voice that also speaks for women’s, children’s, and animal issues.

I’ll likely never be a famous songwriter/singer like James Taylor. I’ll likely never be a famous writer like Stephen King. Actually – although I hope this isn’t true – I may never write a book…EVER. And yet, my desire to be creative has never been stronger.

For years, I’ve allowed my creativity to be governed. I’ve spent the majority of my life concerned about what others think…about me and the things I do. I’ve worked really hard to not look dumb, to not embarrass myself and others around me. I’ve pigeon-holed myself based on a litany of voices in my head that say I SHOULD get a good university education, I SHOULD get married, I SHOULD have 2.5 children, I SHOULD be nice to everyone, I SHOULD chew my food with my mouth closed…I SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD. And to quote a dubiously-famous motivator, Anthony Robbins:

I SHOULD all over myself” 

 
But back to Stephen King. King has reminded me that we don’t have to be those things that others, or ourselves, tell us we should be. He has written library shelves full of books that are largely horror. He 65 years old now and could just get up each morning and shuffle over to his La-Z-Boy chair and enjoy a life of total leisure. Or…he could continue to easily and systematically pump out – like a weekly Harlequin romance novel – more of his standard horror fare and make Brink’s armoured-truck loads of money.

So what HAS he done?

He threw the “SHOULD HAVE” in the trash. In the past year, he wrote and published another novel called “11/22/63”. HORROR?…nope…at least not in the sense that we tend to think of horror. I guess that a story about someone perched in a 6th floor window overlooking a crowded Dallas, Texas street and taking a murderous rifle shot at the head of the sitting American President could be considered horror.

But his book is a well-researched and intriguingly-written novel based on a true historic and history-changing event in modern times. Even though I was just 6 years old at the time, I can remember when I heard about John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It was that big a deal! King develops fully-fleshed out characters and complex situations that are totally removed from his usual fantastical horror creations. It’s a great book from an unexpected source.

How and why did he take the leap to this?

Sorry if you expect me to have the answer here, but…Well, honestly, I don’t know. Boredom?  Desire to write in a more “respectable” genre? Nightmares that wouldn’t rest until he wrote the dreams down?

What I really like here, and what I personally take from this is that we don’t have to be the things we tell ourselves we should or must be—

Horror writer today, historic fiction-writer tomorrow…

Health care worker today, entrepreneur tomorrow…

Bank employee today, college instructor tomorrow…

Concert violinist today, Country fiddle player tomorrow…

Stand aside…I’m making the LEAP!

Ten years ago I was working with bacteria, doing lab tests day in and day out. Throat cultures for Strep, urine cultures for E. coli, vaginal cultures for yeast. It was fun and interesting at the beginning of my career 20 years earlier but it became as boring as watching gonorrhoea bacteria grow.

Computers were just becoming big in clinical labs, and so I took a course on data management and reporting. I learned and learned, and taught myself more and some more still until I became the  lab data expert, another nerdy kind of role. But it was different nerdy. It challenged my mind every day, and now I don’t work with the smelly, yucky specimens. Today, I work in the lab world still, but in a different “country” within the lab. But this world too will grow routine someday soon, and so I’m thinking about where the next challenge lies.

Our lives, like plants in a garden oasis, are living things that need to be thought about, tended, and nurtured. Seasons change, some plants die back, others thrive and grow stronger in the coming spring. We plant fresh seeds.

Change can be a frightening thing, but my experiences have ultimately shown me that it’s exhilarating too. Feelings of disappointment, frustration, loss, or general sadness that go on and on tell me that now is the time to begin the search for the counterbalancing positive to them. Emerson referred to it as the “Law of Compensation”… an opposite condition must emerge to offset the initial condition.

To be in the driver’s seat of change and to make the parachute jump out of the airplane is terrifying and tremendous at the same time. I think that Stephen King- just like you and me who pulls on his or her pants one leg at a time– was needing to feel a brisk, fresh wind in his face, strapped on his parachute, yelled

Today I am…Tomorrow I Can Be…”

.

and took the big jump!

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