I’ve been a writer ever since I could hold a pencil. I’ve also been a movie lover since early childhood. More specifically, a lover of story. I used to make up stories about the people I saw on the street as my mother drove me to school. I made a whole word of stories for my stuffed mouse, Freddie, complete with crayon illustrations. I watched every movie I could—which was quite a lot, since Showtime and HBO hit the scene when I was a kid, and my single mother was gone a lot.
It’s not surprise, then, that I should become a screenwriter. I was introduced to screenwriting while studying creative writing in college, and I was hooked. I wrote a script, and then another, and then many others. They were all overwrought dramas with too much plot and not enough character development, though. I had graduated, gotten married and moved into the workforce, and my screenwriting career was going exactly nowhere. I knew I needed to beef up my characters but wasn’t sure how to do it.
At this time in the history of computers, e-newsletters had just come into being and were all the rage. I belonged to multiple screenwriting-related lists and read those newsletters avidly, scouring their electronic pages for any clues as to how to advance my career. Well, I kept seeing a book advertisement that promised to help me understand human behavior better and create richer characters that were internally consistent. When you keep seeing something over and over, or several different people tell you about the same thing in a short time frame, it behooves you to pay attention. It usually means that God is telling you something. A friend of mine calls this a “coinciGod.”
I knew, after repeatedly seeing ads for this book, that I needed it. I bought it and began reading it earnestly. The book was called “The Literary Enneagram.” The author’s premise was that a personality model called the Enneagram, with ancient roots but grounded in modern psychology, clearly mapped out the nine basic personality types that a human can be. Each of these Types had a particular operating system, as it were— a worldview that caused a person to focus on certain things, to the exclusion of others. It helped explain, for instance, why some people were socially awkward library geeks while others were the life of the party and still others were defiant brawlers.
The book described each Type in numerical order, from One to Nine. I was fascinated, recognizing family, friends and famous people as the author used literary characters to illustrate the Types. Then I got to Type Seven. I started recognizing this Type’s thought patterns, likes and dislikes, ways of dealing with stress…I didn’t know whether to keep reading or throw the book across the room. Who was reading my thoughts? Had someone implanted a chip in my brain and was now laying my whole self bare to the world? How could someone besides me know this much detailed, accurate stuff about me?
Well, I resisted the urge to don a mindreading-proof pyramid hat and determined to keep reading. There was just too much truth in what I was reading to discredit or ignore it. Once reality hits you in the face, you can’t go back, you know? So I kept reading. And it was hard. It wounded me. It made me see things about myself that I didn’t want to be true but undeniably were. It showed me how I hurt people without ever realizing I had. It showed me how selfish and childish and afraid I could be.
I was devastated. After I finished the chapter on my Type, I walked around in a daze for three days. I wasn’t at all who I thought I’d been! I didn’t have it all dialed. I wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. There was some seriously messed up stuff under this hood. I didn’t know what to wear or how to spend my time anymore; wasn’t it all just an elaborate ruse? I was determined, though, to take these revelations seriously, find out which parts of me were ruse and which weren’t, and to become my true self. I’d been traveling through life with a misaligned compass, and it was time to figure out where true north actually was.
That began my journey of self-discovery or, as George Gurdjieff put it, “self-remembering.” Because I am not trying to improve myself; my essential, beloved self already exists right here inside me, fully intact. It’s just getting covered up by the false self that I created, that everyone creates. This work is about removing the debris to reveal the original architecture and the essential artefacts of my being. It’s self-archaeology.
So, watch and listen for the coinciGods that come into your life. Pay attention to them. You are not alone on your journey of transformation. God is pulling for you! How is crazy amazing inconceivable fantastic that?
[Side note: This blog is not only about the Enneagram. I absolutely love this model; I can say without exaggeration that it has changed my life, and saved the lives of others. I don’t make any money from talking about the Enneagram (yet; I’m in a certification program to teach it), but I want to introduce as many people as possible to its freeing wisdom. But it was only the beginning of my journey, and I’ve discovered and experienced so much more that I will share as we go along. If the Enneagram’s not your thing, there will still be things that might be your thing. Stay tuned. Stick with it, won’t you?]
Quick Start Guide to Centering Prayer
This short guide gives you the essentials for learning to be still and quiet before God so you can hear his voice and feel his love in a deeper way.