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Pages must be turned for the stories of our lives to unfold

The other night I did something I rarely get to do. I stopped, sat down and watched a movie. It was one of those movies that tightly grabs your attention right from the beginning and doesn’t let it go until the credits are rolling.

And sometimes, even then as you’re watching the credits, your mind is still on the movie. In fact, I’ve thought about this movie several times since then. To me, that’s what separates a good movie from a great one.

This particular movie spanned the lifetime of the characters and I had a lot to learn about them in a very short period of time. Fascinated by the story line, I was eager to not miss a single detail because I knew that within the details lay the answers to what defined each character and caused them to act the way they did.

At the beginning of the movie, there were characters that I immediately didn’t like while I loved others. I soon realized that I was already making judgments about them while I didn’t yet have all the facts. As the movie wove its intricate tale of their lifetimes, some of my initial thoughts about the characters shifted because of various things I learned about them during the process.

With the clever use of flashbacks, the movie and the characters began to make more sense as time passed. Bit by bit and piece-by-piece, I was able to put the entire story together. Many of the conclusions I’d drawn at first melted away as the movie progressed.

My favorite movies and plays have always been the ones that captivate me, take me on an exciting journey, expose me to a plethora of emotions and leave me thinking about it long after the movie is over.

In other words, I like movies, plays and books that cause me to think about things in an entirely different way, allowing me to learn in the process.

Our own lives are not as easy to figure out as the characters’ lives are in a movie. The movie versions have a large advantage over us in that they already know the ending while we are still in the process of day-to-day living.

If only it were as easy to see our lives play out in Technicolor on the big screen. Maybe then we would be able to understand our lives more clearly. Instead, we have to charge forward with a positive attitude into each new day, striving to learn something from it that will better equip us to tackle the next.

Sometimes on our journey through life, we get stuck, pushed down or the breath knocked out of us. It happens to all of us. Nobody is immune. In fact, this happened to me just recently. But we have to face whatever it is, dust ourselves off, get up and move on.

One of the first real life lessons I learned about this was from a car as a child. We had a flat tire and my daddy carefully pulled the car off of the road. After we came to a bumpy and noisy stop, our entire family just sat there looking at each other for a few seconds. Finally, the silence was broken when I asked Daddy, who of course was a little upset, “What are we going to do? How will we get where we’re going?”

Composing himself to use this little glitch in our plans as a way to teach a life lesson, Daddy answered, “Mark, we have two choices. We can change the tire, continue to drive and arrive at our destination a little later than anticipated, or we can just sit here, do nothing and not go any further!”

I still remember his analogy to this day. Over the years, every time I’ve experienced any little or big “bumps in the road” of my life, I try to think of Daddy’s words. In life, our goal should always be to keep moving forward. So, if there’s something we have to fix, as my daddy so wisely put it all those years ago, we just fix it.

Sometimes “fixing it” means freeing ourselves of negative people and things that cause us to doubt or bring us down. Sometimes it means changing direction to reach our destination. Whatever it is for us, we have to be prepared for the many chapters or scenes we go through along life’s road.

Unfortunately, none of us have Hollywood directors to use their magic and condense our lives into a two-hour movie. No, it’s not as easy as having directors shift things around and edit them for us. Instead, it’s up to us to be responsible for our own lives. As Flavia Weedn, artist and writer said, “As we turn the pages of time, we discover hidden mysteries and triumphs in each new chapter.”

In that way we are just like a great book or movie. To figure it all out, we just have to keep turning the pages -- one at a time.

More with Mark

Holiday happenings with Mark in early November:

Nov. 2-4, Christmas Made in the South, Macon Coliseum,

Nov. 9, Holiday Extravaganza and Luncheon, Goodwill’s Anderson Conference Center, Eisenhower Parkway, Macon. Tickets available by calling 471-4389 or online at Act before Friday for early bird ticket and table pricing.

Nov. 11, A Holiday Celebration, Galleria Conference Center, Warner Robins, Tickets available by calling 971-7701 (Family Dental Associates) or at The Lamb’s Well, Family Dental Associates or Yelverton’s.

Mark’s new cookbook, “Delicious,” arrives this week filled with more than 350 new and delicious recipes including some by local celebrities and chefs. To order, go to or call 757-6877.

Check out Mark’s web site at, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff and Mark’s tees, prints, cards and his collectible porcelain plates!

Mark is on 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.