The real story rarely starts or ends where we think it does

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 12/31/19

The penultimate sentence of one of my favorite stories goes “But for them, that was only the beginning of the real story.” That has always struck me as unusually profound, especially coming, as …

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The real story rarely starts or ends where we think it does

Posted

The penultimate sentence of one of my favorite stories goes “But for them, that was only the beginning of the real story.” That has always struck me as unusually profound, especially coming, as it does, from a children’s story.

But, if you think about it, a children’s story is exactly the right place for a thought such as that. Children have an almost unlimited capacity to reset themselves from one day to the next — it’s us adults that hold on to things for absurd periods of time.

But, we also have the capacity to forget that lesson. Like, for instance, how most people tend to think of the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the beginning of America as we now know it. I think most people forget (or never learned — ‘nother subject, ‘nother day) that the Revolution had been underway for some time before that fateful Fourth of July, that the war raged on for years after that, and that, even after that, it took an eight-year misadventure as a Confederation before we figured out this brilliant form of government we have now. You see, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams’ great achievement was only the beginning of the story.

We had one of those moments only last week, too. It is with some snarky amusement that I read the social media profiles of those many Americans who assumed that the House of Representatives’ vote to Impeach President Trump meant that his tenure as President was over (back to the ‘nother subject, again). Once again, only the beginning of the story: now, the Articles have to be presented in the Senate, the Senate has to hold a trial, and then the Senate gets to vote on whether or not the President loses his job.

For that matter, the great feast we just celebrated was only the beginning of the story. According to the histories, once the Christ child was born, his family had to flee to Egypt. See, the governor-King of Syria had gotten wind of a new king, and, being tricked by his spies, ordered every male under the age of two in his land to be murdered. Imagine that: what we just celebrated as a great and Holy event was also the touchstone event to the wholesale slaughter of innocent children. And, of course, that is only the first of many chapters in that story. And also, not the last time there has been wholesale slaughter in Syria.

We humans, and especially adolescent humans, tend to look at today as some sort of perfect indicator of entire arc of our story. It never is. Today is merely the beginning of the story — in some cases, that story picks up in the middle of a chapter, sometimes in a new chapter, and sometimes as epilogue. But, today is never, ever the end.

So, for those of you who have been giving thought and energy to the great changes you’re hoping to make in the New Year, a gentle reminder: you can’t write the next page if you won’t turn away from the last page. And when and if your resolution falters, once again, turn the page.

Be bold! Have courage! The new year awaits you, and your book has yet to be written.

Oh, and, if you didn’t recognize the quote, that line is from “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

Michael Alcorn

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