Friday, July 20, 2012

Every Crossing

I found myself out paddle boarding for the first time last week. First, I started out with lots of friends all horse-playing around on our boards. Boys tipping over and rocking the girls tanning on their boards, girls stealing the boys’ paddles and the like, all fun and games. When I finally got the board to myself, I wasted no time and took a paddle in hand, stood tall, and started a trek across the bay. I spotted a small green dock cover off in the distance and set my mind to reach it. At first, I really felt like I was flying. I was already almost to staff beach, which is quite a ways from camp. But, taking a look back at camp, it didn’t look too small… not like the green dock cover in the distance. THAT was much smaller.

And that’s how stories go. You start a story, and it just takes off, ZOOM, like that. But once you get to the middle, it kind of slows up, and you feel like after paddling and paddling your arms out, nothing is getting further away and nothing is getting closer, you’re just kind of stuck in the middle. You think you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting off your board and walking on the beach on the other side. You think it’s going to happen fast, and you’ll be there in time for a good rest and lunch. But the truth in fact, is that, lunch will never happen, and the paddling won’t be over soon.
But see, the thing about stories is that, it’s never about the ending. It’s about the character, and how they are changed and molded by all the hard work in the middle. At some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to really move you, now only rock the board. There are only two options when you get to this point: 
1)      stop
or
2)      keep paddling.
Every character in every story faces it. The conflict in the middle is what makes up the story… let me rephrase that, it’s not the conflict that makes the story, it’s the way in which the character changes from the conflict. What does the character learn? How do they grow? Does it make them into a better person?
It’s like this with every crossing and every story. You paddle until you think you can no longer bear it, and then suddenly, the green dock cover off in the distance begins to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the large rocks along the land. The shore sort of reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your board up onto the sand.

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