In writing, we always take the reader on a journey, often by sending a character on a journey. But no one wants to read about a journey consisting of:
“A man went on a journey . . . it was a straight road and an even path . . . and he arrived at just the moment he intended without a single setback.”
So we create tension, conflict, even tragedy, danger, and in doing so, transform an even, two-lane highway into the point of no return. There is no u-turn on this road. The lines are yellow, solid, and double.
But that’s not enough. We add in rocks, then boulders. Hills, then mountains. Twists. Winds. Ledges. Edges. Cliffs. Drops.
Still not enough.
The azure sky morphs to a foreboding canvas, painted every shade of blue and grey. Cloudy. Looming. Drizzling. Raining. Storming.
The journey changes into an adventure. An exciting one. If it wasn’t, who would read it?
The character faces challenges, setbacks, disaster—the more exciting it is, the tighter we grip the book and the more eagerly we flip the pages.
We reach the end and find that the character succeeds! Excelled! Won! He (or she) has become a hero. We close the book, satisfied.
How often though, do we make the connection? Between our life and theirs—those characters we love to read about?
We face challenges, difficulty, problems, and our reaction tends to be somewhat less than heroic. It might bear more resemblance to cowardly, or at best, reluctant.
But what story’s protagonist starts out as a hero? It is the journey, the challenge, the difficulty, that makes a hero out of him (or her). And our journey will do the same for us, if we let it.
If we embrace the hero’s challenge.
If we fail to do so, every future decision in life will be framed with the nagging, “what if?” “What if I had chosen to stand, walk forward, brave the storms . . . fight the villain?”
Don’t let your journey’s picture be bordered by “what if’s”.
Embrace the challenge, even if everything inside you screams, “You don’t have a chance.” Face the storm, even if you can’t see more than a step ahead of you. Scale the heights, in spite of the mountain’s stone face rising against you, daring you to take the first step.
And the next one. And the next. Soon you’re nose to nose with rock; the only view is behind you. (But don’t look down and don’t look back!)
Your journey is bound to hold a myriad of challenges, difficulties and even setbacks. Because Someone is writing an awesome tale, the story of your life.
And guess what?
He’s making a hero out of you.