And the plot thickens…

And the plot thickens…

In one of his discourses, Osho narrates a beautiful anecdote. It goes something like this: someone asked Ramana Maharshi, “If God is benevolent, just, loving and all-powerful, then why is there so much pain and misery everywhere in the world? Why doesn’t God stop bad people from committing crimes? Why doesn’t he protect good people from misfortune and evil?” Raman had a short and sweet answer: “To thicken the plot.”

When I think about it, I find it funny but also true. If there was only happiness, pleasure and light, life will not be liveable. It will become too boring.

A good fiction writer knows this. He/she knows that in order to grip the reader, a story must comprise pain, darkness, sadness, and misery. The active ingredient of a story, in the words of Jerry Cleaver, is “conflict”. In his book Immediate Fiction, Cleaver highlights the importance of conflicts in stories. No story will grip you if everything simply goes right in it.

Just as conflict is a necessary evil in fiction, so also it is in real life. Conflicts thicken the plot in the story of our life. Because happiness derives its meaning from sadness, pleasure from pain and light from darkness. Opposites exist to complete each other. Once we acknowledge this, we can learn to appreciate life’s peaks as well as valleys. While we’re going through a difficult time, we would know deep inside that this is happening for a reason. When we’re sad, we learn to value happiness. When we’re miserable, we learn to value peace of mind.

When we face rough patches, we might do well to think about the most exciting novel we have read and remind ourselves: “The thicker the life’s plot, the more exciting it is and the more lessons we learn.”

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