I have never loved sitting in a dark room for two hours and looking at a screen, especially if I am with friends or family.
Movies always seemed like a cop out when we weren’t creative enough to have real fun, so I avoided them 95% of the time. In my weakest moments, I regretfully caved in.
I would be persuaded to go watch a scary movie.
I would become terrified, resulting in me covering my face with my hood for the entirety of the movie.
I would fearfully rush home and struggle to sleep.
Repeat in a few months.
With that said, I have started to find enjoyment in watching movies lately.
Having a better understanding of story makes a movie seem like one coherent narrative, not a collection of random scenes.
In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller wrote, “If what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.”
They truly are one in the same.
Imagine Sally’s sole desire is to buy a pair of Crocs.
Does this pique your interest at all?
Paul is frantically driving around town to find the perfect end-table for his guest bedroom.
How’s your blood pressure doing?
In Story, Robert McKee says, “A story cannot be told about a protagonist who doesn’t want anything, who cannot make decisions, whose actions affect no change at any level.”
This applies to the lives you and I are living, as well.
We must want something.
We must purposefully strive for it.
Our actions must bring change.
This object of desire, if it is something worth pursuing, is not something that will be handed to you with no effort or questions asked. A worthy object of desire requires striving.
It will inevitably include conflict.
The type of conflict where you question can they actually pull this off?
Mckee defines an inciting incident as something that, “radically upsets the balance of forces in the protagonist’s life.” In response, the protagonist must react to restore balance. This is what propels the character forward through all of the headwinds and troubles before him.
Conflict does not slow a story down.
Conflict does not detract from a story.
Conflict is the story.
We prefer our lives to be stable, steady, and predictable, yet we yearn for exhilarating stories full of positive and negative charges, like a constant game of tug of war to determine a character’s destiny.
We enjoy reading and watching redemptive stories, but we don’t prefer to live them. Redemptive stories, packed with conflict, will always be more compelling and realistic than a story of a character getting whatever he wants with no problems.
We would not pay $5 to see that story, yet many of us are living it.
Conflict is the story.
Nietzsche’s famous quote seems applicable: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
She who has a strong want can endure almost any conflict.
A story where we don’t purposely run into the enemy’s forces, nor where we hide in our closet, but one where we passionately pursue what will bring us and those around us greater life? Sure, there will be turbulence– why would we expect anything different?
We can hold onto hope in the midst of conflict, because, like in story, conflict is the birthplace for what we most desire and need: transformation.