The most innocent and unassuming occurrences often shake something loose inside us, helping to nudge us along a path that might be different but necessary.
As I prepare to publish November Echo, the last novel in my Pigeon Grove series, I utilize a repeatable release process that has become second nature to me. It involves composing my final thoughts for readers to consume after completing the story, packaging it in e-book and paperback formats, and distributing that book to select members of my community before publication day to help create excitement around it.
Part of that last piece includes sending emails, several of them. I’ve been doing this the same way with the same tools for all four prior books in the series. There has been this niggling notion in the back of my mind that something needed to change about it. And yet, I easily pushed that quiet whisper into the background, as if it were some annoying gnat buzzing around my head.
And then, it happened. One of those emails scheduled to be sent the following day went kaput. An error has occurred. That’s the extent of the message I received from my email marketing service. With no technical support available, it forced me to scramble and recreate a new email with all the same content. I was not pleased, cursing the powers that be for putting me in this situation at the worst possible time. Then, I remembered that quiet whisper—or buzzing gnat as it may be. It was there for a reason, if only I had chosen to pay attention to it. In flying insect parlance, the porch door was open, allowing all these negative distractions to come pouring into my living space.
Long story short, this was a wake-up call I needed to alter my course. The relative comfort with my current state of affairs was a deterrent to healthy and necessary change until chaos nudged me forward.
This is not some life-altering moment for a person—choosing to switch email marketing providers when things go awry. No one was ever in peril. The consequences of either the present circumstances or making a different choice were trivial. The worst thing that could have happened was a planned message being delayed by a day or two. It seems quite laughable to get so worked up about such a silly occurrence. And you’re probably wondering why I’m even spending this much time talking about it.
It goes back to the deeper meaning in that first sentence I wrote: The most innocent and unassuming occurrences often shake something loose inside us, helping to nudge us along a path that might be different but necessary.
I don’t know if it’s healthy or ridiculous or what, but it’s somehow hard-wired into me. When these seemingly inconsequential circumstances arrive in my life, my mind can’t help but connect them to bigger things, like these smaller experiences are little guideposts that lead me toward more significant realizations.
I become comfortable with how things are. Not necessarily positively, but such that I’m used to the way everything happens around me. I get into a rut, one where I lose sight of how far I’ve veered from my true north moral compass. It’s not that I don’t want to change. I don’t even see how healthy change can affect me in a positive way. Returning to the compass analogy, I don’t realize that I’m walking due east, or even farther off course, instead of following a path that guides me back toward true north and my guiding principles. And it’s not until I find myself immersed in a moment of utter chaos, that I finally remember that small guidepost from a much less dramatic choice: to do something different, to pay attention to that whisper, to embrace change.
It’s ironic—or maybe it’s not—that so many of the characters in my stories feel that same way. Deep down, each of them knows they need to do things differently. But it’s not until chaos and confusion ensue that they wake up and finally decide to do something about it. Maybe that’s part of human nature. Perhaps some of us could use a little extra nudge that tips us toward change.
Comfort, chaos, and change. They’re innocent words on their own, but when strung together, it’s almost like they’re lamp posts that guide us toward the next one in the list, leading us to the truest version of ourselves.
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