The storybook

As a young journalist, I did a lot of tedious, unglamorous work and I was OK with it. Because it was all part of the journey — part of the climb to the peak — and this was to be expected. And that hard work paid off, because I got closer to the peak, and each step felt so satisfying.

But nowadays when I do tedious, unglamorous work, I start resenting the universe. I wonder why I haven’t earned a better place in the world. And perhaps that contributes to the dissatisfaction.

The real difference, though, is that when I was younger I always knew where I was in the storybook. Pixar has 22 Rules of Storytelling, and one of them is a template for a story that humans generally identify with. It goes:

Once upon a time _______
Every day, _________.
One day, ___________.
Because of that, ___________.
Because of that, ___________.
Until finally, _____________.

For most of my life, I assumed I was in the first two lines. It was still “once upon a time” where I did something every day. The turning point hadn’t arrived yet, because I was young. But as I grow older, there are small turning points, and I feel like I should move onto the next part of the story. I want to get to “Until finally” because that is ultimate fulfillment, or so it seems, but everything around me says that I’m still stuck at “Every day…”

So this the part where I need to understand that everyone doesn’t get a storybook turning point — the “one day” doesn’t come for everyone. In fact, it’s something you have to work for — every day. It’s hard to swallow, because it requires patience and humility, but it’s better than pretending we’re reached “Until finally” only to realize how disappointing it is.

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