Jesse Wilson, a reader from Colorado (firstname.lastname@example.org) uses theater to “transform lives and business.” My recent post on “Story” prompted him to email me about conflict in story.
Each of us has, or will, come to the crossroad where fear and love cross. That crossroad in our life is where rich drama resides. We may not recognize it as such, but this crossroad is where Academy Award quality drama resides.
An example is the dilemma Atticus Finch faces in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Atticus Finch stands at the crossroads when Tom Robinson, charged with rape of a white woman, enters his life. One road puts him with the white townsfolk who oppose his representation and eliminates the coming threats to Atticus and his family. The other road is to take an unpopular client with no money who is charged with committing a heinous crime. Atticus can 1) defend Tom Robinson and risk everything, or 2) walk away and drop the case. Atticus makes the choice that puts him all in. There is a loud voice – inside Atticus – saying, “You must tell the truth. Tom Robinson is innocent. That truth is worth everything.”
Conflict, whether Atticus’, or our professional or personal conflicts, puts us in the forge and either makes us or breaks us. The conflict presents a great opportunity. We can strive to eliminate it, or embrace it and let it fashion our character.
We may never reach the “place” we desire in the “road less traveled.” But the journey is infinitely more important than the destination. Atticus Finch lost the case, but he gained the steadfast love and respect of his children, and taught them a lesson of personal integrity that they will carryon for a lifetime.
Within the character’s struggles, and our struggles toward “the perfect place,” we may realize that in our searching and digging to reach “the other road,” there is something vastly greater waiting inside us, another story, a greater story that makes life challenging and interesting.
The question is the same question posed to Neo in the Matrix, “How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?” How deep inside yourself will you look to understand what you stand for? How will you grow from conflict and opposition?