Lew Wallace was a stud general during the civil war. He played a key role at the battle of Shiloh where he reported directly to Grant and had the chance to work alongside the likes of William Tecumseh Sherman. He, however, had the unfortunate luck to get some messy directions when ordered onto the battlefield. He led his team up the road only to find that his General had wanted him up another. He reversed track. In fact, he spent the entire day going nowhere. His team of 7,000 marched up one road, back to base camp, and up another. In all they traveled 14 miles that day and never saw the battlefield. This “miscommunication” would cost Lew dearly. He lost his job.
He got fired.
Sent home to Indiana and disgraced, there’s no doubt he got the short end of the stick. So, friends, what did he do? Did he fall into “victimhood” and call out his injustice? Did he try to salvage his reputation by writing to Lincoln and Grant and screaming out his case? Did he wage a war in the press to try to return some semblance of order to his good name? Well, in a word, yes. However hard he tried, he would never, not for the remaining 43 years of his life, erase the blotch, the stain, the career ending move of getting lost, off his resume. He would, however, recover quite nicely. You see, Lew Wallace would go on to write his way out of the dumps of his own misery. He would take his sad situation and build upon it. He would pour out his pain, through his pen, and onto his paper. He would write and write and write. As PJ likes to say, “his pain became his platform.” Way before PJ, a dead dude named Marcus said something similar – “The impediment to action advances action. The obstacle becomes the way.” The same is true for you…
Lew would choose to write instead of wallow. In fact, Lew would write the best selling novel of his day and of any day to come. He would write a novel that would introduce more Americans to the art of reading than any other to date. He would write a story based on his story, that would draw us in. He would write about fate, justice, revenge, and restoration. We, the American people, would really relate. His would be the first million selling novel, ever. Very cool.
What did he write?
He wrote the story of Judah Ben Hur. The story that would portend the trend we know so well today. Write the novel, make the play, and cash in with the movie, the toys, the marketing of the big media. Yes, Lew Wallace was the first. And he would have never started to write if he had never felt so wronged. He choose to write instead of wallow. He chose to work on me instead of today’s favorite of woe is me. You have a mind and just as surely you have a mindset. Is your mindset setting you free or imprisoning you further? What are you doing with your current pain? What obstacles in your way are you turning into your way? Are you hardening your mind for the rough road ahead? Victimhood or victory (just this side of chaos)? You choose. Your choices have consequences.
Want to learn more about the writing of Ben Hur? You can by reading the book, The Ripples of Battle, by Victor Davis Hanson. Good.
Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…