The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Lose Weight While You Sleep!

Well, not really, but it sounds great, doesn't it? Day after day we are bombarded with "opportunities" to get something for nothing.  I am perfectly aware that the "Five Minute Miracle" sounds exactly like one of those.  I get a great laugh out of that.  But just for the fun of it, I'm going to tell you an application of the "Hero's Journey" that will enable you to do serious self-improvement work while you sit on your butt and watch television.  Seriously.
The next time you are watching a film you've seen before, see if you can pick out the steps of the Hero's Journey.  When does the hero receive the challenge?  What resistence or fear does she show?  When does she accept the task placed before her?  What are the nature of the internal and external trials?  What allies does she gather, what skills does she acquire or learn to express?  What is her moment of  greatest failure?  Greatest doubt?  What type of faith gets her through?  How does she attain victory--or if she fails to take her leap of faith, how does she fail?  And how does she express this new awareness in her life?
There are no perfect "patterns" or formulas that will lead to success in fiction writing, but what you CAN do is sensitize yourself to the pattern of life, and the way these patterns are expressed in drama.  Only a trivial, derivitive story puts all ten steps of the Journey in 1-2-3 order.  An artist understands the value and meaning of the different steps, and then finds ways to use them to create an aesthetic effect.  How did this filmmaker work for or against expectations to accomplish this?
Listen carefully, now: Every time you spot one of the ten steps, take five deep breaths, quieting yourself, and listening (feeling) for your heartbeat.  Visualize your triangle/diamond of goals.  When you purchase the Five Minute Miracle, use THAT breathing technique (wow!). 
What you are doing is anchoring new awareness in your body.  The more times you see these patterns in the world around you, the easier it is to recognize where you yourself are on your journey, and therefore the resources you will need to move forward.  Learn to use this technique, and pretty soon you will see the pattern of the Hero's Journey everywhere you look, and life will reveal a new level of mystery and power.
Lose weight while you sleep?  That's for amateurs.  How about: Enlightenment while watching the Three Stooges?  THAT'S entertainment!

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