Every year, at the beginning of school, the district I work for has an opening institute. It is the time when we celebrate people who have been working in the district in 5 year increments (had one this year at 40 years - whew!), discuss the vision for the new year, that kind of thing.
Then we have a speaker of some kind. It is usually someone who aligns with what the superintendent wants us to consider, start on the right foot and so forth. This experience over the last eight years has elicited various reactions from me. But this year it hit home.
The conversation was about trust. Do students trust their teachers? Do the teachers trust their administration? Does the public trust education and vice versa? And through the entire presentation I found myself volleying between "This is brilliant and I know how to be a better teacher/wife/mom/friend" and "Wow, would this ever be a great exercise to utilize in character development".
And it got me thinking about how someone knows they can or cannot trust another. Sure, we've all see the movies, read the books, attended the plays where there is a gross violation of trust. We gasp, raise hands to our mouths, flip back pages to see if we really did see it coming and so forth. But how do we know when a character can trust another?
When we can trust someone?
When someone can trust us?
As I have considered this for a few days, I've determined it all comes down to actions. We can create characters who were Eagle Scouts, donate time at soup kitchens, fundraise for the less fortunate all we want, but that doesn't elicit an aura of trust. That can only come from that character doing what they say they will do.
Which brings me to reality. I've been in a writing funk lately - one that is different than what I've experienced before. The blog suffered, my novel suffered, social media suffered. But a large part of the funk was that I didn't trust myself. I said that writing is important, that connecting with people who uplift and inspire was important, but I didn't have the actions to back it up.
I was betraying the trust in myself.
This isn't often a violation in trust that we consider, but it is probably the most important one for us to maintain.
And same thing with our characters.