I don’t think anyone of us would ever intentionally set out to create mediocrity. I believe that each one of us wants to be remembered through what we create. We want others to see parts of us in the stories we craft. Somewhere along this path of legacy, we slip under the subtle guise of mediocrity.
Mediocrity- telling weak-willed stories without any sense of personal conviction. The issue is not about lack of talent, but is actually about identity. If we want to kill mediocrity we need to face ourselves head on, be blunt and honest with what we feel at the core of our souls, lay bare our fears and our dreams to investigation. Those are the stories we want to create out of.
Stories are living DNA that latch inside each of us, becoming part of our own history, making up the core of who we are. The only way to create stories that feed our DNA for meaning and purpose, stories that are fleshed out, filled with breathe, are stories that come from places of vulnerability and sensitivity to deeper questions within us. The questions we should be asking have nothing to do with why we aren't talented enough to tell quality stories. The questions we should be asking are ones that don’t have answers.
Questions that demand discovery, questions that can only be searched through the powerful and uncharted waters of creativity. If we want heart in our stories, then we need to be prepared to give heart. Put some skin in the game, ask yourself what scares you, what keeps you awake, what hurts you, what makes you feel alive? Take those questions and with every ounce of courage; wrestle with them in the best way you can. Use your imagination.
Great stories come from real people with real issues, like me and you. If you don’t put yourself in touch with those struggles, then we’re all just dressing up skeletons. Just because we put diamonds on a carcass doesn’t take away the fact that it’s dead, it stinks, and only pushes people away. Sure they may come at first, after all, dying things tend to draw attention, but not the attention you need.
Let me expound with two recent examples of two creative forces that exemplify the power of using creativity to challenge questions.
INSIDE OUT: Inside Out, PIXAR gave children, and adults a visual roadmap to understanding our emotions, how they define us, and shape us. Children now have visual images to help them wrestle with the difficult changes and experiences they will face in life.
INTERSTELLAR: In Interstellar, Nolan allowed us to wrestle with time, space, and our ability to transcend all of that with love.
The common factor: They chose to wrestle with complex and intimate ideas through storytelling. Wrestling with an idea is much different than telling someone your opinion.
This is why I love story. Stories allow us to wrestle with our humanity, with complex and mysterious theories and emotions. In our wrestling through such stories we discover greater meaning in our own stories. Meaning and purpose that can be ascribed to our lives. Notice I didn’t say answers, many times we are left answerless, yet in our wrestling we find a voice to questions that trouble us.
I know that even after being brutally honest with myself by facing the fact that its easy to create mediocre stories, won't change the fact that I still will fall into the glamorously attractive grave of creating stories I think are cool by using cheap tricks, won't stop me from holding myself to a higher standard of storytelling. A standard of quality that reflects my honestly, a place where you can see my questions and if you may- join in as we wrestling to understand this fragile but beautiful life we inhabit together.