Monday, February 17, 2014

Chasing Your Destiny: Course Correction Versus Adaptation

When you’re writing a story, the main character often goes on a journey in which he makes mistakes and goes in a different direction than the one he’s supposed to be going in. That's what keeps the story interesting and the audience tuned it. We want to know how the character will get back to where he's supposed to be.

In a story, the main character has a destiny, even if they’re not aware of what that destiny is at the beginning. Yet, there are hints within the character’s story world that tell them that something isn’t right, that they’re going in the wrong direction, and that they need to course correct somehow. The character faces opposition, either internally or externally, and they often have to fight and strategize their way back to the path toward their destiny, with help along the way.

In the M. Night Shyamalan movie Unbreakable, Bruce Willis’s character David is having a conversation with Elijah (played by Samuel L. Jackson) that goes like this:

DAVID: This morning was the first morning I can remember, that I didn’t open my eyes and feel that sadness….I thought the person who wrote that note had an answer for me.

ELIJAH: That little bit of sadness in the mornings you spoke of? I think I know what that is. Perhaps you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing.It’s a brilliant exchange because Shyamalan perfectly captures the human condition. How often do we feel this restlessness, this discontentment with who we are and what we’re doing? Our story world is soaked with hints of something more that we could be and more that we could be doing.

It's Easier to Adapt
Yet we often settle for far less. The sadness continues, but somehow it seems easier to settle than course correct. How many people have taken a career path that is completely outside of what they should be doing simply because that's the path on which they found themselves? Rather than work their way out of it, they make the most of a bad situation. They adapt. Yet the discontentment continues. Like David in Unbreakable, we settle for being a security guard when we're meant to be a superhero.

Why should we settle? C.S. Lewis puts it this way, "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

Course Correction Isn't Quick
The scary thing is that, just like in really good stories, course correction isn’t quick and it isn’t easy. It’s often grueling and it takes time, sometimes lots of it. It’s so much easier to settle than to hustle.

When you’re in the midst of course correction, the thing to remember is that you’re only somewhere in the middle of your journey back to the path toward your destiny. If you give up, you’ll always feel that sadness that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing and that you're not who you're supposed to be.

Don’t settle. Course correct. And realize that course correcting sometimes means doing things you don't love for a time to earn the right to do the things you do love later on.

Question: What's the one thing that you feel you should be doing with your life that would take you some considerable time to get to?

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC via PhotoPin CC

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