When I was in India a few years ago I had an epiphany (no, it wasn’t that I was meant to eat lentils everyday – I already knew that). We were stopped at a gas station on the side of the road somewhere in India. I came out of the squat toilet to see my traveling companion Amber, the driver and a couple of other guys standing around a clump of bushes. They had enormous smiles on their faces. They beckoned me over. I peered into the bush to see a dog and her new born puppies.
|Imagine these dogs - but smaller|
My first thought was – wow, this country doesn’t need any more mouths to feed.
My second thought was – wow, that’s what hope looks like. In a country of more than a billion people, many hungry and living in slums, the others competing on a daily basis for space, jobs, and resources, they could still marvel in the miracle of life and the birth of puppies.
I thought about the signs of hope I saw everywhere in India. Plants grew, highways were paved (albeit really slowly), children smiled, people shared resources and lived as harmoniously as possible in one of the most geographically, politically, ethnically, linguistically, and spiritually diverse countries I’ve been to.
I saw hope on the faces of the men who got joy from seeing new born puppies. What I learned from this epiphany was to leave your characters with hope – whatever hardship they navigate through and obstacles they overcome in your story – always leave your characters, and your readers, with hope.
|My last day in India - tired but happy!|