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Meta-narratives, Mo, and Miller (Don)

This is the postscript to my last entry.



I sat down on the bench hoping to hear from God. I left feeling slightly confused. Had this man been some sort of answer to my prayer, or a distraction from it? Was this a random isolated encounter, or some sort of piece in a bigger narrative?


Last week, I heard Don Miller speak at the opening of his new book tour. Along with some jabs at our "socialist healthcare" in Canada and his naming of Vancouver as the most beautiful city in North America, he talked about the essential components of a story in screenwriting and how turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie has taught him a lot about living a good story and not just writing them. I appreciated many of his thoughts as both human and writer:

"We love conflict on the screen, but we hate it in real life...conflict existed pre-sin. (Adam's loneliness)"

"If you killed off a character, what dreams would die with them?"

"We're conned into not wanting big things, because with dreams comes fear...conflict...failure..."

"We often think that 'winning' is the only resolution to our substories, but it's not. (see Friday Night Lights - the movie)
and my absolute favourite,

"If you want to control a nation, control its stories."


Over a week later, there are still many thoughts swirling around in my mind involving story-writing, my own creative projects, and the meta-narratives of my life. One of the general premises of Don's talk is that each of our lives is a story, with interconnected events, a progressing plot line and an eventual climax and resolution. I don't disagree.

However, even if we argue that I am the author of my story and not merely a character (which takes us back to that good old free will debate), I am not an omniscient author. I don't actually know how my story will end. I don't even know which are the relevant scenes.

There's nothing more frustrating than watching a movie where a story thread gets dropped (like when I watched a TV edit of Hope Floats) or when a nugget of something never even develops into a story thread. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but they're the scenes that you almost forget were a part of the movie when you get to the end.

But in my own life, I don't know which threads to chase down and tie up, or when to take an isolated scene and pursue it. I wonder, at the end of my life, which parts I will look back at and think, You should have let that one go. I wonder, in the immediate moments of life, how to wait for the right time to act, to seize moments and pursue dreams. Movies, and in fact, most stories, do a terrible job of demonstrating the reality that most of our lives are spent waiting - sometimes this is our own fault, but much waiting is inevitable. In writing, we gloss over and sum it up, because no one wants six chapters (or six scenes) of all the unrelated things that go on while the one story thread we care about is on hold.

Oh, there are so many thoughts heading in so many directions! It is terribly hard to wrap them up and end this post.

(ten minutes pass while I walk around, stop the rabbit from chewing cords, and think a little bit more).

I think that is the point.


It's not wrapped up. I don't know where I'm going. There are several things I'm thinking on, mulling over, waiting for. I don't understand the whys of many of them. There are seeds of ideas and situations that I feel tired of judging, deciding to throw out or keep in. When I try, I feel like I am making premature decisions about relavance, importance, value, and the future. I am bound to make mistakes.

I am in the middle of my own story, and it bothers me that I can't read the last page to see how it all turns out.

Comments

paulman said…
Hey Beth! Wow. You must have had quite a day/week! Speaking of stories, you are a good story teller :)

You know, my newly discovered "Connectedness" Qstrength makes me say that there is no such thing as an "unrelated" scene :) But I think you're right - often times we have to choose whether to let something go, or whether we choose to pursue an opportunity. And I think those choices are always meaningful and have consequences, whether we choose well or badly.

I think that in the end, God takes both our innocent mistakes and our sinful mistakes and weaves them all together in His sovereign story that He has already written for us (cf. Ps 139:16, Eph 2:10). That's how I understand God and our place in the story, anyways. To jump into your analogy, I see us as co-authors and God being the primary author of the story of our lives. We are really writing and making real choices, but God is still in control and can move/shape/bend us as He wishes. Kind of like how Scripture was inspired - real authors, with real personalities that come through in the text, and their words but ultimately God's Words. Just my thoughts on that.
Wendy said…
You have a rabbit?
Beth said…
paulman - thanks for your thoughts :)

wendy - heidi does. it lives upstairs and sometimes i let it out when i am around for awhile...

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