Note: Clearing out my email drafts tonight, I came across this post. The funny thing is I don't remember this post or book at all. I feel like this girl doesn't even exist anymore. But I also want to keep this piece of writing. I even went and bought the Kindle version of the book (it's $5 on amazon) so I can see if it has the same impact now that it had then.
September 29, 2010
I hate to say this- but this book might be changing my life. It puts so much pressure on a book to be described as life-changing. It also puts me in a position of feeling like I have falsely raised your expectations if you go out and get your hands on a copy of this book and you're sorely disappointed. Well, I'm sorry about that.
But this book might be changing my life.
When I was in college my roommate told me that you are either the star of your own movie of your life or a supporting character. And I have to be honest and say that I have always felt like I was a supporting character. The star is a scary place to be. It is too open to criticism, too exposed, and (it seemed) too self-centered. But for a long time most of my friends were self-centered people so it made sense to feel like that wasn't a role I desired.
But there isn't a choice- is there? You are the lead character in your own life. Period. You can't be the supporting cast. To feel that way means that you aren't in charge. And you are most definitely in charge because no one else is and no one else can be. It is just you. It is just me.
It is a scary way to think about life. That you are in charge of the story. But it is also sort of exciting.
I lead a boring life. I am not going to act like I don't. I get up, go to work, sit in meaningless meetings, deal with bullshit situations that aren't nearly as important as they claim to be. I come home, watch some TV, or read, or knit, do some yoga, go to bed. Day in and day out.
I like my life. It is comfortable. I don't like change (no one does), and I don't want to come out of my little nest at home because that's scary. I am generally happy but that doesn't make things interesting.
Is this they story I want my life to be? No. It's the most boring story ever, being lived by millions of people all over the world. There is no zip to this story. No one would pull that book down and read it because it is dead boring. My movie isn't going to recoup its costs in the box office, even as a slow little independent film.
I need an "Inciting Incident". That's the catalyst that makes change happen. It kickstarts the story. Sometimes you can make your own inciting incident, and sometimes that incident is brought to you.
A while ago in therapy I was asked to make a list of what I want in life, and put it in words, describing each in the greatest detail I could. Why were these desires important to me? What did I hope the outcome would be once I got there? Well, I couldn't do it. I couldn't think of a single thing that I want- really want. I felt like I already have everything.
Well that's boring and sad. It's not about ambitious- I'm plenty ambitious. I just can't think of a goal that I want to reach outside of my job. How dull is that?
Living without a goal is a sure way to avoid any excitement. It insures that your story is going to be so dry and boring your 13 cats wouldn't even read it.
What will my inciting incident be?
A good story requires that the central character has courage and daring and a sense of adventure, none of which I have ever thought that I had, but I didn't think I actively lacked them either. However, when I am staring my stagnant life in the face and seeing the thruth, I know that I haven't never pushed myself enough to know if I do have these things. I would like to think that I do.
I will never know if I don't have an inciting incident.
Donald Miller is regarded as a Christian author and talks about those moments in his life when The Writer (God) tells him to do something. Sometimes he ignores it and the urge to do that thing only comes back. If he does what it tells him to do, things generally smoothly work the way they are supposed to.
Now I know that I had a pretty good atheist rant a few weeks ago, and I still don't believe in God. But I do believe that people are driven to do things by a force they can't explain. Is that God? Because if it is then I guess I will have to take it all back. I believe that people are meant to do things. I also believe in free will. I also believe in that little voice that tells you something and you know you have to listen. It could be something big, like being called to work for sweeping social change. It could be small, like something tells you to switch lanes on the highway moments before a truck swerves that would have killed you. When I was 11 or 12 I was alone in the house and putting dishes away. I opened the cupboard where we kept the plates. Something told me BACK UP and I felt like I was physically pulled backwards. As I moved I heard a whoosing sound and our huge Corningware casserole dish fell from the top shelf onto the counter and smashed into about a million pieces. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have been severely injured, if not killed, by that casserole dish falling on my head.
So what was that? Was that God? Did the reflexive part of my brain hear the dish falling before I even registered that I heard it and forced my limbs to move?
I don't know.
It's been 2 years since my last big life story. Although I guess technically, buying a condo a year ago was a big story too. A big breakup, however, is much more dramatic. I think I am ready to find another story to live, another thing to put my energies into. I know that I needed time to hibernate and recouperate, but I don't think I need to do that anymore. I think I need to get out there and live now.
I need an inciting incident.
I need an inciting incident.
I wonder what I will choose.