by Tory Butterworth
Think of your favorite romantic novel, movie, or television show. Remember that scene where the hero or heroine, in a single moment, throws away everything they’ve worked for, pursuing, instead, the one they love? Most romantic dramas have it. My personal favorite is from the television show, “ER,” (I think it was season four or so.) Carol Hathaway (Julianne Margolis) leaves her nursing job in the middle of her shift, runs to the airport, and flies from Chicago to Seattle to check out if it could still work between her and Doug Ross (George Clooney.) You know what I mean.
I’m here to report that real life doesn’t always work like that.
Two weeks ago, the day I posted my last blog, I had an opportunity for such a, “Throwing caution to the wind,” moment. That day I received an official offer for the job I’d been waiting weeks to materialize. That day I also had a promising telephone interview for another job, with similar pay and benefits, but working on a different research project, also very interesting.
Enter dramatic elements of fiction writing. 1) Conflict: I can’t take both, 2) "Ticking clock": current job offer on the table, 2) Stakes: probably happiness for the next two years of my life.
How many times, at this climax, does the hero or heroine make the bold, dramatic move? How many times have we seen weddings decided (or undecided) at the alter? How many times does the protagonist walk out of their job and take the next available plane to Timbuktu?
A friend of mine who's a travel agent once commented, "Whenever I see those scenes I think about how much money they spent on that last-minute plane flight."
Such are the realities of life, not art.
I took the job I’d been offered. The other one wouldn’t be decided for weeks, and I wasn't willing to let the first offer molder while I chased another, similar if different, job possibility.
In fiction, the best choice is foreshadowed. In real life, the best choice is often determined by factors you won't know until you've lived with it for six months. I might have loved the second job. But, I bet the one I took will be just fine.
Sometimes I like to make the bold, dramatic move. But, in real life, sometimes you sigh and don’t take a chance. Because, well, life isn't art . . .