Yesterday afternoon I was on my way to the basement for a rousing 30 minutes on the elliptical when it occurred to me that I could postpone the workout by shoveling the snow off our walkway first.
Two and a half hours later, I had shoveled not only the walk but our entire 3/8-mile driveway. And I really enjoyed it. Honest. In fact, I discovered that I like shoveling snow a lot better than I like working out on the elliptical. I’m a northern girl at heart, having grown up where the snow comes in November and stays until March (at least that’s the way I remember it). I like cold weather. I don’t like to sweat.
Shoveling snow—unlike working out on the elliptical, where I distract myself by watching TV— promotes thoughtful self-evaluation. Halfway down the driveway I realized that I was enjoying myself. Three quarters of the way down the driveway it occurred to me that the reason I was enjoying myself was that it was my choice. If someone required me to shovel the driveway, I would perceive it as burdensome labor and probably an unrealistic expectation. Now, does that make me: a) incredibly self-willed, b) delusional, c) human, or d) all of the above? Probably “all of the above.” What is clear is that my motivation was conditioned by my perception.
The current revision of my novel is all about motivation. Why do the characters do what they do? How do they perceive what is happening to them? What is their hidden motivation—something they may not fully comprehend themselves? Someone (I don’t know who) said, “We do what we do because we believe what we believe.” Each of my main characters—and even the minor ones—must have a clear internal motivation that informs their perceptions and determines their actions.
The same is true of me. Does what I believe determine how I think and what I do? Would people know what I believe about myself, about others, and about life by how I behave? Show, don’t tell.