Monday, November 29, 2010

An Education

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had the chance to actually sit down and watch a movie (yay!).  I subscribe to Netflix and the next movie in my queue was An Education, which was released in 2009 and nominated for three Oscars. 
If you have not seen it, the movie is about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London whose life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
At one point in the movie, the main character, Jenny Mellor, says,  "If we never did anything, we wouldn’t be anybody.”  Jenny is reflecting on what her English teacher has taught her, which is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Action is character.”
Now as an author, I immediately thought of the characters I create.  If I want my reader to know that my character is empathetic, I don’t tell my reader that.  Instead, I allow my reader to discover the character’s empathy through the character’s actions.
As a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a manager, a person stuck in traffic next to you - what have my actions said about me to those people I encounter on a daily basis?  Do I walk the talk?  Do my actions show me to be impulsive?  Thoughtful?  That I’m someone who takes my commitments seriously?  Have I been afraid to take risks?  Do I show the love I feel? 
After succumbing to a mild anxiety attack over my moment of self-analysis, I came to a conclusion.  The real question I should ask myself is "What do I want to stand for?"  And how do I reflect that in my actions to lead a more purposeful life?