Posted: July 23, 2021 in: Pain-2-Power, Person of the Week

Your Story Doesn’t Have -30- Written Yet

When I worked at Newsweek magazine for a short time, then as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post, I learned to type -30- at the end of any piece I had written and filed, in order to let the editor know that there was no further content—not another paragraph or disclaimer or diagram or photo credit—beyond that signoff.

It isn’t clear how the -30- tradition started, but there are plenty of theories.  Some suggest that early Roman writers ended their pieces with XXX (the Roman numeral, of course, for 30).  Another theory is that, during the Civil War, the first message sent to a press association by telegraph was 30 words in length and, therefore, the sender ended the message with that number—which stuck for all future communications to the press.

In any case, I have needed to remind myself more than once during my life, at moments of adversity, sometimes very late at night or very, very early in the morning, that God has written no -30- at the end of my life story.  And, since you are reading this blog, the same is true for you.  There’s more of your life story to come.  Many, many things can still happen.  Very good things.

Human beings know this, instinctively, even if we sometimes forget it when it comes to our own life stories.  No one walks out of a movie theater because the main character is in a jam or even in the midst of deep despair.  People look at their watches and think something like, “Hmm, there’s half an hour left, I wonder what will happen.”

I wonder.  Wonder is a terrific antidote to despair by the way.  If you encounter darkness, let yourself wonder how the light will dawn, again.  Remind yourself that you haven’t written -30- at the end of your story and that most anything can happen—including spectacular comebacks.

Pain, my Friends, is always about becoming more powerful.  Every single time.


Dr. Keith Ablow

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