Why story patterns matter

Patterns always start with a first time and my pattern got rolling when I couldn’t figure out how to light the gas grill in my back yard. I’d just moved into the house and never had one before.

I found the knob for the natural gas on the front and then crawled around on my hands and knees, looking for a opening in the pole to poke in the match. Found it. Then I lit the match and shoved it in.

A fireball exploded over my head, flinging the grill lid skyward. The hinges held and the lid thumped down, putting out the fire.

I’m a quick learner. I never lit a grill like that again.

But there was the time when I had to light an old furnace in a rental house we were renovating. This time, I couldn’t figure out where the pilot light ignition nozzle was located. I did a little hunting with the lit match but this time I knew enough to stand beside the furnace opening, just poking my arm into the furnace mouth.

The match finally bit on some gas. There wasn’t a fireball this time. Just a loud roar that brought my teenage kids down to the basement where they scoped out my blackened arm and singed hair.

“It doesn’t hurt,” I said. They couldn’t hear me above their laughter. The pilot lit, though.

I wasn’t concerned the day I decided to cook hamburgers on our new grill.  I knew the routine. I turned on the propane and pushed the ignition button, just like I had been told. Clicks did not lead to a fire. Phooey. I needed a match again. So I went inside, found the box of matches, opened the grill lid and tossed in a match.

This one was more of a bang than a roar.

Why am I sharing this? I’m a writer and I continue to learn that stories create patterns. In novels. In articles.

And in life, where I am no longer allowed to hold a box of matches anywhere near gas. Patterns matter.

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