Stepping out of the Comfort Zone
I am currently listening to Rising Strong by Brene Bown while I train (walk) for this upcoming run next year. I find myself pausing the book again and again, as I want to take time to hear what she said. This morning I felt like a failure, because things are not going according to plan. I LOVE plans. I stopped the book to allow myself to take time to absorb her take on storytelling and the Hero's Journey. (Disclaimer, I am just saying what I heard, not attempting to say what she actually said or quote her.)
I love the mythology of the Hero's Journey! When I was still in college and obsessed with Harry Potter, I had spent so much time reading and learning about the Hero's journey in an effort to understand where the story was going. (The fifth book came out while I was in school). I used to joke that if I ever became a Chemistry teacher, I would refer to my class as potions class. The fascination with the Hero's Journey came long before that, deconstructing Star Wars and even the Bible lead to long debates with some of my family and friends. Identifying the archetypal characters and understanding the role they play in the overall story, and therefore hoping to understand this crazy roller coaster of life.
I even have a fiction story started using that construct, but I was always missing an understanding about a part of the Hero's Journey. It comes in Act Two, having to really understand and accept a character's motivation to continue on after the glamour of the call wears off. It is that time in the unknown, in the uncertainty, the pause between the monkey bars, it is going out of the comfort zone. Brene said something like act two starts when the main character has done everything comfortable to resolve the situation and finally accepts what it will really take. This is leaving the scholar world and entering the warrior one, it is embracing the time when one is in the dark.
Why is that important to me? Because there are many times I have done something that is out of my comfort zone and been surprised with what happens. There have also been times where I have walked away and thought, "not the best idea." However I love certainty, I love knowing how the story will turn out. That is probably why I read so many Fantasy stories, they tend to always work out. No matter how dire the circumstance, it all comes together. I know the story before it starts. It is always okay.
Storytellers rarely discuss those moments in the dark, when the mind is going back and forth between what is comfortable and what needs to be done. They are summed up quickly, so that the story will continue. Maybe that is why I wanted to understand, to feel, to experience the hero's motivation. I needed to understand leverage, leverage that closes the door behind you and prevents you from going back. However that leverage might not be enough to keep going and so sometimes I get stuck in the dark for a while.
The dark is part of the process, it is that time to find that motivation, to decide where that next step is, it is out of the comfort zone and therefore it is where growth happens. We have all experienced that second act in one way or another. It is where we gain skill and some sort of experience that will help us the next time we enter that dark room. The experience and skill is that we got through it, the flip side of that is we also remember how much we didn't like it. It takes something that cannot really be put into words to allow the door to shut and take a step into the unknown.
Question of the day: What is your hero's journey? Which Act are you in right now? Who or What inspires you to keep moving?