Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from my friend and mentor, Charlotte Rains-Dixon.
Sometimes fiction states truths every bit as profound as non-fiction, which is why I like writing it. My just-released novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, could be classified as a romantic comedy. Despite the humor, its heroine embarks on a spiritual quest every bit as serious as those in the latest self-help bestseller. Sandra asked me to share some of Emma Jean’s discoveries with you. Here goes:
1. A serious spiritual quest can start in the oddest of places. For Emma Jean, her epiphany begins in the throes of passion, when she realizes that she is connected to everyone and everything in the universe. Her resulting spiritual journey is an effort to recapture that moment. Except that she discovers:
2. It truly is the journey, not the destination. Because there is no destination, only the present moment. Emma Jean learns this when her initial efforts just lead her farther away from the truth of her being and deeper into trouble.
3. Life changing wisdom can be found in a book. Emma Jean is a writer herself, and like most writers, she’s a voracious reader. After her epiphany, Emma Jean’s first impulse is to order books—lots of them—on Amazon. As she peruses titles from many traditions, including Hindu, Christian, Buddhism and New Age, she gains enlightenment and purpose from her reading. The trick, of course, is that she must learn how to live this wisdom in her day-to-day life.
4. Life is better when you’re writing. Or painting. Or in process somehow (see #2.) Because of the trials of her life, Emma Jean quits writing. And a writer who isn’t writing or a creator who isn’t creating is like a pastor who isn’t praying. Or a lama who isn’t mediating.
5. Life is also better when you’re praying or meditating. Hard as it can be to establish such habits, and Emma Jean finds it very difficult, an ongoing dialogue with a higher power (even if it’s your higher self) makes everything easier.
6. Embrace simplicity. It’s powerful, even when everything is taken away from you forcibly, as is the case with Emma Jean. She loses everything she holds dear—and finds something even more valuable in the leftover crumbs.
7. Wherever you go, there you are. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we can’t get away from our shit. It follows us wherever we go, as Emma Jean learns all too well when public penance becomes part of the trials she must endure. So it’s best to learn how to deal with said shit, because there’s really no escaping it.
8. And despite all your efforts, sometimes you end up where you started. In the classic quest structure of the hero’s journey, the hero accepts a call to adventure and over the course of it, discovers many truths about himself, which he then brings back to his ordinary world to share. So, too, with Emma Jean. The things she learns about herself are more like uncovering the truth of her being that had gotten covered up with false reality. She returns back to the person she was meant to be at birth.
9. Letting go really is the answer. Give it all up and get it all back. It’s only when Emma Jean quits trying to shape what happens to her and surrenders that her life starts to turn around again. She learns the important lesson that we think we control things but we really don’t.
10. Give thanks for every experience. Good or bad, they shape us for the better, Emma Jean learns. And just about always the worst experiences not only teach us the most, but they lead us exactly where we need to be.
What are the life lessons you’ve learned? Which of Emma Jean’s resonate with you?
Charlotte Rains Dixon is a writer, writing coach and writing teacher. She has published numerous articles and stories as well as three non-fiction books. Charlotte received her MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and teaches in the Loft certificate-writing program at Middle Tennessee State University. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, a 15-year-old blind pug, and two enormous cats. Visit her blog at charlotterainsdixon.com. And, check out Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.
Thank you for reading and sharing! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email. With love, Sandra