The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Hero's Journal #5

The Hero gathers Allies, and gains Powers.
This will probably require several entries, because it is a vital, and rarely addressed aspect of goal setting.  In story telling, this is the time when the character meets the people who will  help him, and gains the abilities required to resolve the issue.  After all, if you already had all the abilities necessary to accomplish something, it wouldn't be a very interesting goal, would it?  This is where Rocky gains Micky as a trainer.  Where Luke Skywalker meets Han Solo and R2-D2.  Where Huck and Jim go rafting. 
On a personal level, this raises a very thorny issue indeed.  Let me put it this way: if you want to know where you are going to end up in life, just add up all the people you associate with, divide by the number of people, and you are going to be right in the middle of the pack.  It is damned difficult to rise higher than your associations--they will attempt to hold you to your old image, to keep you as the person they are comfortable with.  Ever tried to go on a diet and had your friends start bringing by coffeecake?  Tried to study and had family try to urge you to go to the movies?  Tried to get serious in a relationship and had your single friends encourage you to go to a strip club?  Then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I'm not saying that you have to dump your friends.  Sometimes our families can be worst at this, and we are stuck with them for life.  But you must be willing to ignore their attempts to hold you back.  One of the most powerful weapons friends and family can use to hold you back is the THREAT of withdrawing their love and support.  Your attitude must be: so be it.  You must be willing to walk alone, if necessary.  The Chinese have a saying: "Thick Face, Black Heart."  To be a winner, your "face" must be "thick" enough to ignore the entreaties and opinions of others, if they are contrary to your growth and evolution.  And your "heart" must be "black" enough to be invulnerable to their supposed pain.  If you are behaving in a moral and honest fashion, being considerate and polite, people will still accuse you of "hurting" them if you attempt to live your life in your own way. 
Pardon me, but adults are responsible for their own emotions.  They are using their self-inflicted pain to manipulate you into not changing.  YOU MUST BE WILLING TO WALK ALONE, if need be.  but do you know something?  If you are willing to listen to your own council, unwilling to be swayed from your path once you know it is right, you will earn your way into the company of others who have made the same painful choice.  And they are some of the warmest, most talented, and loving people in the world.  You must be willing to leave your negative associations behind.  You must be willing to love your family, support your family, but not be defined by them.  Most of what you will ever want in the external world will be gained through exchanges with other human beings.  Surround yourself with quality.

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