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I am sitting at home on a snowy day in May (what!?) wandering into the kitchen every ten minutes because eating reminds me of the joy of life even when it is miserable outside. Then it struck me – I am packing on a pound as a result of a profound lack of imagination. Surely there are other ways I could think of to find joy. It just takes a little attention on my part. (being slightly dramatic here)
This struck me as a profound thought. Suddenly aware of why I was eating, I am not doing it anymore. My mind has wandered to other possibilities…
I could play my favourite itunes songs. I have created playlists for all 12 core archetypes because I love to immerse myself in each world by hearing several songs in a row on the same theme. Sometimes I love to listen to new music and find the archetypal core in a song. I bet you can guess the one I play the most. My top 5 Warrior King songs right now are When I was Your Man – Bruno Mars, I’m Your Man – Leonard Cohen, I’ll Always Come For You – Nickelback, When You’re Gone – Bryan Adams (“even food don’t taste that good” is a brilliant lyric), and Scream – Usher. Not thinking about food now, are you.
Movies are another great way to get in touch with what brings you joy. Most movies take you on a journey that reaches for the light side of life. I like comedy romances on days when the weather is not co-operating. My all time favourites are While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail, Wedding Crashers, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Legally Blonde and The In-Laws (not strictly a romance but it makes me laugh). One more for luck – This Means War.
Hey, what do you know. The sun is shining and the breeze is incredibly fresh and slightly warm. I am going to put on my favourite mascara, my sunshine yellow dress and go buy some nifty office supplies – just to treat myself.
What about you? What gifts do you give yourself to connect you to your feeling of joy and remind you of your intrinsic worth? This connection to your Virgin archetype is the source of your creative power. Spend some time exploring it.
I liked this movie because it is not the classic movie about revering a Hero. It has a more mature theme which is more interesting at my age, and at any age it is nice to get some variety. I would describe this as the evolution of a Warrior King story. It answers the universal question of what does it mean to be a man (or a positive representation of the masculine in all of us). Fight is the story of the dying and Rising god. Only through going to the depths of severe loss and letting a part of him die can Whip Whitaker become the man he is capable of being. It is so interesting to watch him struggle over the sacrifices of ego and comfort it takes to live by his values.
Even the poster is fantastic. His face shows so much struggle and inner self loathing despite the prestigious pilot uniform. He looks like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
Flight pilot, Whip Whitaker, rescues hundreds of people because he is a superior pilot. He is also an alcoholic, and a failure as a husband and father, who now risks being stripped of his pilot licence, social status, freedom and vices. In short, he reaches a point in his life that he has to define what he stands for.
The Warrior King is challenged to discern his highest value. Whip could be scot free if he blames the accident on the dead stewardess who was his lover. He found the moment where he knew what he was capable of. He stepped up and finished the statement I am the man who…
We all left the theatre inspired by his actions. I could feel it as I walked away. I wonder how many people thought of the story afterwards and wondered how they would finish that statement. We are all asked to stand for something every day. It is like the song, I would walk ten thousand miles to be the man who wakes up next to you… There’s a guy who has decided where his priorities lie.
I like movies that keep you thinking after the lights go on.
This blog was inspired by watching Oblivion with Tom Cruise and a couple of women. Now, I’m as big a prude as the next guy, but I’m going to say that if the driving force for the movie is that life is only meaningful when you have passion, then indeed, you need to show not tell. There needs to be a sex scene. Maybe then I would have really felt Jack’s relationship with Julia. (Is it just me or is this image phallic?)
For example, when a man reunites with his wife after decades of being apart, a woman who he loves so intensely that he can’t forget her despite having his memory wiped out, I’m not not buying it without the sex scene. It is not gratuitous. A movie is a felt experience and if the protagonist is having a monumental feeling the audience should be let in on that. Otherwise, why are we putting in the time to go on this journey with him? It can be subtle or tasteful but it needs to be more than implied if the theme is driven by love.
So I started thinking, are there Romance movies that don’t have a sex scene? Of course there are lots when you stop and think about it like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, About a Boy, Hitch, many teen romances. Tons more. The key is to have a momentous first kiss – which is the first piercing of the intimacy boundary. You wouldn’t for example, learn about the big kiss by having a friend tell a friend. The kiss wouldn’t be implied. Also, the movie has to end when the relationship starts if you are hell-bent on not having a sex scene.
I’m not saying Oblivion is a Romance but it is a story of love. That’s what makes it an action story with a twist. Love of Earth; love as a real connection. Oblivion is first and foremost an action movie and there are fantastic visual images and some interesting new fight scenes. The best part is all the twists and turns in the plot. But the reason I would say it was not a great movie is because it has a theme of the importance of real love, the felt experience. This is supposed to be shown to be more important that the logical or evidentiary experience, yet it didn’t give us enough evidence of an understanding of love, in my view.
All of us work really hard to stay stuck. I know it sounds crazy but there is probably some unconscious belief in your head that is blocking you from fulfilling your greatest potential. It reminds me of that great Tibetan proverb that says
“No matter how far you are down the wrong path – turn back!!”
This is what Gives Up WHat Kept Her Stuck is all about. It is becoming conscious of your limiting belief. Notice that this is story beat number 8. The reason your protagonist can become conscious of her limiting belief is because she has been in her secret world and grown in her connection to her authentic self. This connection gives her the solid grounding to be able to see things from a perspective of independent thought.
My favorite classic example of this moment is in Ever After when Danielle directly asks her step mother if she has any feelings of love for her. She has been working like a slave in the hopes that she could please her step mother and earn love for she has never known the love of a mother. Her step mother smirks and questions why she would feel love for a pebble in her shoe. With great sadness, Danielle gives a firm nod and accepts the truth that has been before her all the time – this woman will never love her unconditionally. From her face and her actions from that moment forward you know she is no longer limited by her belief that her step mother might love her, and her step mother has lost power over her.
Finding this moment in your story is a key factor in the transformation of the Virgin. You can often find what the limiting belief was by looking back at beat number 2 – Price of Conformity. Ask yourself why your protagonist felt she had to conform to her dependent world and then give her a reason, based on love, that she understands that is not her best option.
In About A Boy this moment happens when he hits rock bottom and it occurs to him that island living is not the answer. To be happy he has to care about someone besides himself. Similarly, in Wedding Crashers John is at a funeral and realizes it is better to have loved and grieve than to never have loved at all. These moments clear the way for the Virgin to grow into her authentic self.
What is the light bulb moment for your protagonist where she realizes that she has a belief about what she deserve in life and it is not working for her? Once she is conscious of the falseness of the belief she can just let it go.
Hello anyone who is out there. I have been away from this blog for too long and I regret this. It is like I have drifted from my virgin self while I heroically pushed to complete a renovation on my house. I am back and rejuvenated by my lovely environment.
Environment is so important in the virgin world. When we surround ourselves with things that feel beautiful, colors that move us, scents that uplift us like citrus in the winter, or freshly baked vanilla cookies, we have found a tangible connection to our inner voice and our source of joy. This simple act has profound impact. The virgin archetype lives in a world driven by love. Love is not like fear which finds you and pushes you around if you don’t push back. Love is something you have to make space in your life for by being present and gazing inward. You have to awaken to love and welcome it in. You have to make a wish, or appeal to the gods, or believe in your dreams. When we notice the sensual delights that appeal to us and put them in our environment we have found the door to enter the love based world.
Stories that are driven by love need to take some time to experience the environment of your protagonist and how s/he responds to it. The reader needs to be taken to this world where the rules are different and experience the joy of it. At its best, this environment reflects the worthiness of the virgin to be seen for who she knows herself to be.
On the shadow side, the Victim archetype exists in an environment that sends her the message she is irrelevant. Things are run down, drab, and broken. Sometimes even her body is not respected. It is an environment where she must struggle to gain a connection to her intrinsic worth as nothing in her surroundings or her relationships gives her evidence that she is seen or appreciated for being her beautiful self.
So what is the environment like in your story? How can you use the sensual aspects of it to take a person on the Virgin journey?
Here’s a note from a prof who I guest lectured for. I thought the story was so insightful and delightful I had to share….
I am just finishing up marking essays and about to have christmas exams in a few days, so things are very busy. However something funny happened today in our last Intro level class, where we were reviewing the terms and definitions for the exam. You will be honoured I am sure, to know that some of your concepts are now on the Women’s Studies Exam!
So anyway, there I was going over the idea of the fear based world and hero quest vs the love based world and the virgin’s journey. We were trying to come up with a few issues in women’s studies that fall in to the virgin category (ie the book that the class wrote their essays on, Obasan, about the Japanese Canadian experience in WW2, has many virgin story elements). And then, one student who by his own admission is half crazed from lack of sleep and too much coffee (he is finishing up a paper for another class), said “Well, isn’t Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer a virgin story?” This got a big laugh from the class, and I just wanted to let you know it has become the tag for “Virgin’s Journey” in our class.
And yes, I would say Rudolf was on his Virgin’s journey.
Probably everyone has seen Argo but me. It had even come and gone to Whitehorse before I saw it. The advantage is I get to talk about it openly (warning, spoilers) and see if you noticed what I did.
First I liked it. I loved that it makes moments of my childhood come back to me, like the yellow ribbons and those fabulous clothes and hairstyles, and that it fills in the details. This untold story is more fascinating than fiction.
It is also a story well told. I couldn’t believe how tense I felt given I know how it ends. Great writing and directing.
What makes it a really great movie for me is that it includes a personalization of the ordeal as Joe Stafford regrets that he didn’t listen to his wife when she wanted to go home. He stayed because he wanted to prove he was a man, impress his boss. He thought sticking it out would be a great career move. His self reflection is really powerful because he gave so little consideration to his wife’s fear and his role to protect her and he suffers in regret.
I was so pissed off with him when he kept playing the skeptic, working aginst Tony, as if this was a good role for him. Had he learned nothing?!
And then it happened. At the airport when they were stopped, it was as if something clicked in Joe’s head and he decided to step up to the plate and do whatever it took to bring his wife to safety. And he did it with a passion that made me tingle to watch. He sold that crappy screenplay as if he wrote that baby himself. They were not going to fail because he didn’t show up and do all that he could do. This was the Warrior King in action and I loved seeing it. Great character transformation.
I also have to say Ben Affleck was great. Hopefully it’s not because he reminds me of an ex-boyfriend, but I think he is very charismatic on screen. He echoed the same message. When the warrior king in you is called to a challenge you use your discernment and you follow through. Despite having a lot to lose, and an easy out, Tony Mendez acted out of integrity. It is a beautiful thing to witness and I am grateful for the inspiring movie and the insight into the real life warrior kings that were involved in that moment in history.
If you want to tell a story about following your dream you have to leave the fear based world and follow the rules of the Love driven world. They are not the same. We instinctively push away from fear but we pull towards what we love. You can’t do both at the same time. Stories of being authentic, recognizing your unique gift and bringing it to the world, following your passion, and coming of age are all told from the love-driven world.
Here are the rules of operation in the love based world:
1. The people around the protagonist, her community, don’t see her true potential. They see her as a pawn in their desire to further the fear driven world, if they see you at all. Even if their intention is to be benevolent they are not allowing her to be herself. Love is conditional which isn’t really love at all. SOmetimes everything is all very comfortable and safe as long as you fit in. The motivation to go on this journey has to come from inside you and it is a Virgin’s journey – the road to recognizing that you are of value for being yourself.
2. Some belief you hold in yourself is holding you back such as “I should be helping others”, “who am I to be beautiful, talented, spectacular?”, or “other people’s happiness is more important than mine.” Notice again this is coming from inside the protagonist and we can see it on the screen.
3. Virgins do not flourish through mounting fear. In a state of fear their focus becomes very narrow and uncreative. The Virgin needs a Secret World where she is safe and appreciated. For a while she must believe her secret is safe. This gives her the freedom to grow into her potential. She can follow what brings her joy in this world. Put lots of joyful moments in the middle of your movie, not setbacks! Let the audience watch her grow the way we marvel at flowers or butterflies emerging. She must also go back and forth between her two worlds because she is not ready to exist on her own. In the moment of moving back and forth there can be fear (or comedy) just not in the Secret World.
4. The Virgins world is full of relationships. People are connected to each other and the growth of one will inspire the growth of another. The antagonist in this story can grow out of love for the Virgin. Fathers come to understand that their role is not to control their child but to love them and build a place of safety when they are being authentic. Bosses see the error of their ways. You don’t have to kill off or exile your antagonist in a story of following your passion. It is better if you see them grow to become a better person for having known the Virgin.
5. Unexpected outcomes happen in a Virgin story. Billy does not set out to become the first male lead in Swan Lake. But he was and it was magnificent. The key is for the Virgin to stay connected to what s/he loves and follow it wherever it takes her. S/he opens herself to the play of the universe. When the Virgin is being true to herself, shining her light, the world becomes brighter. Art, connection, growth and change are all possible, in ways beyond what you initially imagined. If your character dreams of being a dancer she may not get into the school she applied to but she danced in the streets igniting a new dance craze and dancing becomes part of our everyday lives. The goal was not as important as finding a connection to what she loves. The rest is luck, synchronicity, or dare I say, destiny.
In a word – yes, if you want to write a good hero story. Fear is a response to danger. It is a call to action. The action you take could be heroic or cowardly. That is where your light or dark side shows up. But fear is an instinctual response to danger and thank goodness! To be machine-like and not be able to respond with all the nuance of a human would be the end of us.
Fear tells us to push away from something that could harm us – it is the instinct to avoid pain, be it physical or psychological. The positive response to fear is to get tough, prepare, build your resources, fortify, strategize, collect metrics – reshape the world to produce a better outcome. This is the foundation of many hero movies. The dark response to fear is to deny, blame others, avoid, self-protect. Enter the coward. Put both in your screenplay and watch how the emotion builds. My favourite coward is Cypher from The Matrix.
Fear is the driving force in self-discipline which heroes need to develop in spades. They look at impending doom and decide to do whatever unpleasant task is required to change that outcome into something desirable. Heroes exercise that just-do-it anyway muscle, and it is a muscle. With practice s/he gets really good at it.
Delayed gratification is another crucial part of the fear-driven world. Some thing are only earned after doing the hard work. There is a famous marshmallow experiment where kids were told they could have a marshmallow now or two if they waited until a later time. Some kids couldn’t wait. (Incidentally they were not as successful in life). Putting in effort for something you want later is grounded in an ability to plan for the future. Placing yourself on a time line with a view of the past and the future is part of the fear driven world. When you can use the past and picture the future that you want, you can endure lessor pain now for a greater gain later.
The key when using the fear factor is to make sure everyone is really clear on the real consequences of failure and the rewards of success. The rewards have to outweigh the effort required.
In the face of fear we are also called to be self-sacrificing. Bravery in the service of others develops your self-esteem. The more agency we feel to push back the boundaries of our mortality, the more heroic we are.
These are the elements you want to put in a Hero story.
I did an interview for the Seekers Journey which focuses on how we follow hero’s journeys in our lives. I expanded it to talk about the Virgin’s journey in life as well (second half of the interview). It was fun to muse on life and our journeys. I think I will try video blogging, if I can figure out the technology. here’s my first video post co-opted from youtube…
Video is humbling. Technical difficulties and all…