Life is a story.
Everyday, I hear stories. Anecdotes on blogs and message boards, memories in books and intimate conversations with friends and complete strangers.
As a journalist, I am trained to see things as a story. How do I make what this into a story? How do I make it a story people want to read?
At Imago Dei today, our speaker was Don Miller, an amazing storyteller and one of the most non-abrasive Christian I have encountered.
He spoke about stories, which is fitting since he is an writer. He focused on what makes an interesting story. Conflict, for one, makes things interesting. Stories without any conflict are boring. The reason, he says, that we resonate with stories that have conflict is because our own lives are filled with conflict. Relationships, culture, politics, spirituality, and health all come with imbedded conflict.
He quoted Robert McKee, who wrote a 500-page book on the philosophy of the story. What makes a good story? For the most part, it's the continuation of the positive and negatives in our lives. Good things happen, then bad, then good, then bad. If it was all good or all bad, nobody would care. It wouldn't be interesting, or realistic.
He also discussed ambition and dreams. Protagonists have ambition or dreams to turn the bad things into good things. The character's resolve to make a positive difference is something the audience can rally around. It doesn't matter that something bad happened to the character. It's the fact that the character wants to do something about the conflict that resonates with the audience.
I can see how this is true in my own life. My life is always more exciting when I discover a challenge and seek to resolve it, rather than just sitting in my bubble universe pretending everything is fine and dandy. There is no colorful excitement, no adventure and no reward when you live in a beige, static existence.
Don said he didn't like resolutions or goals because if he fails, he is a horrible person. He prefers dreams. As he sat in a hotel room in Tennessee, he wrote a list of dreams that he wanted to fulfill. There is no time limit on dreams. They were meaningful dreams, about relating with God and being faithful, not afraid.
You can live a life of dreams or you can live a life of fear, he said, and a life of fear is a very boring story.
I don't want to live my life in fear of being rejected, alone or sick. I want to live my life with dreams that I will find a new home this year after I graduate, a place where I can truly express myself alongside people I trust and respect. I want to live my life with dreams that I will have a long life, full of wonderous adventures, miraculous encounters and lots of laughter.
I want to live my life with the hope that my dreams will come true, not fear that they won't. I know not everything I dream will happen (I'm not holding my breath for that Oscar), but at least I can move forward knowing that no matter what happens, I am not afraid. By embracing the (literal and figurative) highs and lows, my life is becoming a more amazing story.
Life is too important of a story to be hindered by fear.