“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.” Donald Miller
The middle, that point where an individual starts to question themselves, their journey, and their role, is never (ever, ever) easy. The solution seems impossible, it doesn’t seem like it will work out. The struggle is getting too hard. Resistance starts talking louder (and you start listening). Doubt creeps in.
“Maybe it’s not right. Maybe this isn’t the right path for me. Maybe there is a better way. Maybe, maybe…”
But the middle ground, between the launch and arrival, is where the character is made. Anybody can start the race. Running across the finish line is easy. What comes in between is the battle.
“Characters have to face their greatest fears with courage. That’s what makes a story good.” Donald Miller
Facing the fears, struggle, and suffering of the middle ground but still fighting on is what makes the story great. Without the struggle and the perseverance, the story wouldn’t be memorable: it would be BORING.
What’s true in a story is true in reality: Without conflict, without suffering, without the middle ground, our lives would be BORING.
“So I need the middle, but what makes it easier?”
This is not the right question. Looking for ease starts the journey with the wrong mentality.
Instead, start the journey strong.
The question should be: “What can I do to prepare for the middle?”
Planning and decisiveness. Decide before you start that you are living your story and that means finishing the middle. You WILL push through the struggle.
That way, in the middle, where the boat seems to be going nowhere, you know that you are making it to the other side. It’s your story, you have no choice.
(I just finished reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Fantastic book that definitely inspires originality, conscious pursuit of playing your role, and striving to live a good story. Highly recommend it.)