I hung out with my friend Dennis last night and the conversation took a deep dive revealing an aspect of me that I didn’t want to admit. I was frustrated with being under challenged in parts of my life. I was bored functioning at a level well beneath my upper limits.
This morning I reflected back on the conversation and had an ah-ha moment. It was the type that screenwriters adore. The simple, yet poignant moments that transform character driven movies into award winning films became obvious to me. I finally understood why desperation and frustration make excellent components for telling a story on screen – And, in life.
Understanding my viewpoint starts with the premise or definition I use to compose a character. Simply put, frustration is created when a character holds back from being who they really are and desperation surfaces when a character tries to be someone they’re not.
While I’m no psychologist, I’ve observed many people who get frustrated from what is referred to as blocked goals. The movie Anger Management suggested that those blocked goals, or times when people hold back, lead to anger issues or uncontrollable outbursts – Conflict that writers love.
While in life we want to manage our frustrations before they turn into anger, screenwriters want to inflate the frustration to drive the film through conflict. Along the same lines, creating a character that tries to hold back from being who he is in order to get along with others is the perfect formula for intense dramatic scenes.
There is a story behind everyone who is holding back from living out his or her potential. Most of it can be traced back to some fear of loss. I’ve seen this in an executive who lost his friends when he became a part of the Fortune 100 elite. While some say it comes with the territory, I question if he had the right friends to begin with. Regardless, the loss was great and painful.
Can you imagine what our lives would look like if everyone stepped up to their potential?
That would be easier to accomplish if there weren’t so many people trying to step up to be something they’re not. The world seems full of desperate people trying to make something of themselves in areas they really don’t fit into. This is readily evident when watching the losers perform in the first few painful weeks of American Idol.
My sister and I got together for dinner recently and decided to watch the singing hopefuls. There was a clear distinction between the desperate that wanted everyone to think they were a singer and the quiet confidence of those who owned the talent. Unfortunately, there were tens of thousands who were desperate and only a few dozen who had the skill and charisma.
When looking closely into someone’s life or developing a realistic character, the goal is to find out what is at the core of who they are. Some times it surfaces when they aren’t thinking about it – Those moments when it slips out. I’m speaking about those core personal elements that cause them to be who they are when no one is looking.
Do you stop, or not, at a stop sign in a desolate place with no one around for miles?
I actually stop. Well, it would be more of a rolling stop, but I’m just not capable of running the sign.
When asked who people think I am, most say that I’m a communicator. While the word “creativity” would be a part of the explanation, the person would try to describe me based on the setting in which he or she saw me.
In the Fortune 100 world, people talk kindly about my presentation skills and high business acumen. In the speaking circuit, individuals talk about my life experiences and my ability to share simple stories that help them relate and apply the ideas to life. And, in the film world, people talk about my ability to write and develop entertaining stories out of thin air. But, in all cases, everyone agrees that I’m a communicator.
So, the greatest way to frustrate me is take away my ability or venue to communicate. The opposite is also true, the next time you see me frustrated, you might want to suggest I talk about it or journal – Putting me back into a communication mode. I was never built to be silent, although there are times when it’s prudent.
For those who are desperate, most are chasing after something that they aren’t because they haven’t slowed down long enough to learn about themselves. It takes a significant amount of alone time to understand what’s at the root of our hearts. This is not to be confused with loneliness, which causes some to avoid alone time.
One of my friends was desperate to become a pastor, but never took the time to find out what was at the core of his heart. Twenty years later, he realized that being a pastor wasn’t for him. He had confused the positive reinforcements he got for being a good listener with his shared religious rhetoric in attempting to direct people in a better way of life. It wasn’t until he caught on to what he wasn’t that he was actually able to encourage people in away that they could receive it and benefit from his comments.
No one would argue that Tiger Woods is a golfer or Michael Jordan a basketball player. And, we probably would all agree that neither one was a baseball player even though one took to the game for several painful months. However, in keeping with my definition, we might agree that Jordan was frustrated during his retirement because he wasn’t playing basketball and desperate to get involved in some kind of sport that led him to baseball. There is a good character driven movie somewhere in that part of his life.
The best way to create dramatic scenes in a film is to block your character’s goal or to have her purposely hold back her gut response. And, the best way to reduce the dramas in life is to unblock our personal goals by being who we are. As for me, I’m going to find some new challenges in life that will expand my ability to be me.
Very well said, insightful & I hope I can stay focused & let this sink deep into my brain. not just superficially appreciate of the thoughts & words.
You made some very interesting observations that I need to ponder a bit more. I think God uses films and literature for healing and recognition and insight into understanding ourselves and others. I know that to be true in my own lofe and it is probably why I am passionate about literature and film. I do want to throw out a couple of thoughts, though. While its frustrating when we haven’t achieved what we thought we should at a certain point in life, we are in God’s kiln and subject to His timing and under His authority as believers; we don’t truly see our contributions as He does… perhaps it is for our ultimate good that we aren’t where we feel we should be. We see through a glass darkly. All of the things going on in the spiritual realm, timing of events and the domino effect we cannot see from our limited perspective. We must just trust God that He has a future and a hope for us as individuals! Also, we must avoid the compulsion to compare ourselves to others; our path is unique and special to God and to ourselves. I believe you will see when it is time how your gifts, hard work, and obedience and reliance on God has had larger sweeping effects than you can even imagine.As Christians,we must not define ourselves by the world’s systems and definitions of success; those are all temporal. I am speaking to myself here since I tend to look at where I thought I wanted to be at this point in life ad I must remind myself of all the positive changes that have happened and realize sometimes that I don’t have complete control over what happens. We are all affected by others’ choices and what’s going on behind the scene. I was recently interviewed for a higher full time position at work (I have 4 part time jobs) and the job was give to a peer who had some competitive animosity for me. Now my boss, she fired me and I was a bit upset with God. Why had He allowed this person who didn’t have the skills and experience to now be my superior? I chose to believe that He had something better for me rather than what I thought I wanted.Now, a few months later I have discovered that she lost this position. The company is suddenly not doing well and if I had been given the position I most likely would have been out of work too and worse because I would have quit my other 3 jobs and unable to earn unemployment because I would not have put enough into the system timewise. This brief sort of timeout has also given me some pause to pray about what I should be doing next. My new dream involves using lit and film as tools to heal emotionally huirting people; what form that will take I’m uncertain of. Sorry to ramble on but please keep communicating and using the gifts and talents God has given you!
Enjoyed the post. Also the comments above. I think there is a balance in it all. But you’re absolutely right that we’ve all got the person that we present to others, and then beneath the surface are who we really are, with all it’s goals, dreams, frustrations, etc. It definitely helps to understand these things when creating our characters. And to have the overarching understanding that God is at work in and through it all telling His master story through our humanity.