Okay, I’m super excited 😀 I think I’ve finally figured out the theme of my Ivy League College Thriller:
The three poisons–desire, aversion, and delusion—lead to suffering.
And let me tell you, it has been quite the journey getting here. Just this morning, I was tweeting:
Haven’t worked out ending completely yet, but idea is new friends betray her but old friend takes fall for her. Maybe there is theme in that? But still – it would be about embracing safe status quo and rejecting the new and exciting 🤨 not sure that’s what I was going for 🤣 2/2— Yanicke Forfang (@yanickeforfang) November 7, 2022
Then, suddenly, the answer came to me – a Buddhist concept that has long resonated with me – the idea that the key to contentment lies with eliminating desire, and basically appreciating what you have. By inverse, desire leads to suffering, which is absolutely perfect for this book.
So, I went about researching Buddhism and it’s view on desire causing suffering and came across this gem:
In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one’s mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance. Basics of Buddhism (pbs.org)
And then I remembered a book I was listening to about Stoic philosophy, which spoke about a similar path to (what Stoic’s term contentment) virtue. So, I googled Stoicism’s view of desire and suffering and found this:
Desire causes suffering just as much as aversion, and this is often why they are called “the root of all suffering.”
Desire Causes Suffering Explained (stoichandbook.co)
So, I thought – Wow! Now I have a theme, and one rooted in ancient ideas, no less. Pretty cool!
After a little more digging, I went on to learn desire, aversion, and delusion are also known as the three unwholesome roots, the three poisons, or the three fires. Root Poisons – Freeing Oneself from Suffering and Its Causes (buddhist-spirituality.com)
I’m thinking maybe I might be able to derive a title from the novel from this. Three Drops of Poison perhaps, or using this Thriller Book Title Generator – Writers Write, The Poison House or The Poison History (lol), Poison Lies, The Poison Path (or A Path of Poison), Poison Eyes, The Lovely Poison, A Penchant for Poison… 😛
Breaking it down, there are effectively 3 misbeliefs combined in this one theme:
- Greed is good
- Failure is unacceptable.
- Ignorance is bliss.
|Annika’s Fear||Annika’s Misbelief||The Truth||Annika’s Perceived Path to Happiness|
|Emptiness, loneliness, depression||Greed is good||Desire leads to suffering |
Desire what you already have (gratitude is the key to happiness)
|Being a part of Veronica and Marcus’ exclusive world (desire)|
|Fear of Failure |
Making serious mistakes that can’t be fixed and have serious consequences.
Stems from lack of confidence in abilities (ie. expects to make mistakes)
|Failure is unacceptable |
It’s better to never try than try and make mistakes.
It’s better to regret what you didn’t do, than to regret what you have done.
It’s better to err on the side of caution
|Aversion leads to suffering |
Mistakes are the path to growth
|Staying in university forever so she feels safe (ie. doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes in the real world that have real consequences) (aversion)|
|Fear of Knowledge |
Losing everything because she discovers something bad
Fear of anxiety
Fear of disappointment
|Ignorance is bliss||Delusion leads to suffering |
Knowledge is power
|Staying willfully blind to aspects/actions of others that are bad – seeing people the way she wants to see them (ie. through rose-colored glasses) (delusion)|
So, yay! I feel like I’m starting to get somewhere now.