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Monday, January 2, 2012

We Are So Nosy . . . In a Good Way

I had a slow period in my freelancing due to the holidays and took advantage by reading two Nora Roberts books:  The Search (2010) and Chasing Fire (2011).  Both are her mainstream novels, combining suspense with romance.  Pure Nora Roberts.  Longer.  More subplots involved.

But what struck me from both was the "secret language" inherent therein.  The Search dealt with dog training for search and rescue efforts, while Chasing Fire involved fire jumping--those fearless firefighters that jump from planes to land right in the forest/snow/woodlands next to the flaming inferno.  So, obviously, each had its own terms relative to the distinctive profession.

It goes back to an earlier post where I mentioned the six basic needs for humans: 

1.  Certainty/Comfort zone
2.  Variety/Out-of-comfort zone
3.  Purpose
4.  Love/Belonging
5.  Self Growth
6.  Worldly Contribution

These specific language sets within careers, as illustrated in the two Nora Roberts's books noted above, help us fit in, feel like we belong.  Compare that to the secret club that we are not asked to join, and the secret handshake they will not share with us, and the secret rituals held in secret places at secret times, and we feel pretty left out, right?

Listen to any nurse talking to a doctor, and their verbal shorthand helps them communicate.  Plus shows us we don't understand the language they are privy to.  It isolates us.  We are the ones looking in, toward the inner circle.

Aside from careers, it is evidence of a sort within relationships, both the good and the bad.  We listen to the words shared, or the space where the words are withheld, added to the body language, and we determine our own reading of that couple. 

Which brings me to the title of this post.  We are all interested, inquisitive, individually.  Some more than others.  Still, I think it is human nature to investigate, to record, to research, to evaluate.  We want to improve our lives, those of our families, and we gauge how we are doing compared to others.  I'm not talking judgment here.  I'm talking about the search for happiness.  Knowing what we can have influences what we reach for, correct?

Seeing just two couples with a near-perfect working marriage would encourage a jaded person to believe, to hope, to dream.  I know it does for me.

Now, some people are downright nosy in an intrusive manner.  But the nosiness I am speaking of here is more of curiosity, that of a seeker of knowledge, wisdom, happiness.  Tied to a basic human need to belong.  To feel "at home" whether related to a person, place or thing (as in a job description). 

That is just one element of myriad others that makes for Nora Roberts's best-selling books.  She shares with us this behind-the-scenes look at these off-the-main-road careers.  Puts us in a new place (out of our own comfort zone in our actual lives), let's us do a test run (putting us in a virtual reality of this new variety of life), and gives us a nice ending where the bad guy is named and caught.  Plus love wins out (the security factor fed here with these last two items). 

The self-growth listed above is easily accommodated within a novel by the main character's arc--his or her growth to becoming a better person, having confronted their fears or bad memories, and dealt with them, head-on.

Their purpose is confirmed by their love of their job, even a harrowing one, further acknowledged by the very definite service they provide for others.  Here we've tapped two more basic human needs.  That belonging factor is echoed in the catch phrases inherent to these unique careers--like "shake and bake," which will forever take on a new, and still-body-shivering, connotation for me.

Yet I think it is great.  It piques our need to know, need to amass information, as we wander about in the hands and mind of this person immersed in this unusual job.  We try it on for size.  Then we can discard it later, or pursue it with lust in actuality.

I know after I read Chasing Fire, I was ashamed at how little physical enterprise is involved with my career of choice, being an author and copy editor, and vowed to add in structured exercise, now that my manual-labor day job is gone. 

After reading The Search, aside from being a little creeped out, I was reminded how much I love my animals.  And that love wins out again. 

So, as an author, I use that nosiness factor when writing a book for a reader.  I give them a glimpse into someone else's life--their career, love life, home life, hobbies, pets, etc.--to show them what we are all avid to know.  What is their life like behind closed doors?  Is that couple who is showy with affection in public still so at home?  What does that particular career entail?  More than the Occupational Handbook description--for we want details, much more details, the dish, the secrets you share with your best girlfriend.

Isn't that what an actor does as he readies for a part?  To be a fighter, s/he trains.  To be an athlete, s/he trains.  To be a pianist, s/he trains.  To be a bartender, s/he trains.  To be a model, s/he trains.  To be a sniper, s/he trains.  Just imagine the life of an actor.  Each gets to choose the project to work on.  And it is like trying on a job, to see if it fits.  Once the make-believe career is gone as the movie wraps up, then the actor decides whether to continue on with the skill(s) learned.

So can we, just by reading a book.

Do you find it mystical and magical and yet so sensible that our life's six basic needs are ALL mirrored in our favorite reading material?  What a wonderful career we authors share as we arrange assorted letters on a page among other such pages which has the possibility, the gift, of changing a person's life.

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