I’m late. As usual.
I run to the car, without the time to second guess combining the thick black rimmed glasses with the billowy skirt and the sturdy black boots. I wonder if my boss questions what happened to that woman who showed up to interview, in the urban chic business attire, the patent leather heels, and the straightened, shiny hair, which today, piles onto my shoulders, bigger than usual, thanks to the slight bit of damp on this cool spring morning.
It’s spring break week, my work schedule at the mercy of friends willing to take my kids, one house here, another there, phoning in favors that may or may never get repaid, and either way, it won’t matter, because one of the things I’ve learned this year is that true friends don’t keep score.
A mountain of work awaits at my office along with a boss who can be unreasonably demanding. The first few months with him, I’d plow through it, not stopping to eat or chat with co-workers, but lately, I’ve slowed down. I’ve grown tired of feeling the need to prove myself, to everyone, always.
I don’t love this job. I don’t like it much on some days. But when I took it, I knew it would be an in-between job, for an in-between year. This is a year of transition. Waiting, reconciling, resolving. Parenting, selling a house, signing papers.
But life still happens in the in-between, a lot of life, actually, the joy of watching my son bowl his first strike, amusement park trips, winter afternoons at the beach, and dogs we’ve fallen in love with and nursed back to health. It’s the kind of life that I wouldn’t want to miss due to my restlessness, and besides, I know I can’t charge to over there until I wrap up loose ends here.
In storytelling, the in-between is the pause between the action and the tension of the main character trying to overcome obstacles to propel her closer to her goals. It’s the lull between the conflicts that the main character faces.
None of us like conflict, yet Aristotle told us that it’s necessary for any good story.
The in-between is the time for the main character to decompress between challenges.
These challenges can be emotionally wrenching, for both the reader and the main character, yet McKee told us that it’s the job of a storyteller to put his characters in situations that evoke emotion.
While I want to push the plot forward, swiftly, like a warrior, I must be patient. I must be willing to look within, work on me, and be true to my character.
According to Lajos Egri, well defined characters will drive the plot themselves, and therefore the foundation of character is the essential catalyst of a well-crafted story.
I remind myself we are the lucky ones, each of us both storyteller and main character in our own hero’s journey, not always in control of the situation, yet the masters of our of our actions. The best stories start with a world out of balance, and once we accept that, rise to the challenges and be true to ourselves, the outcome is often better than we could have imagined.
As I arrive at work, I think about life, and how I’m trying to face it, with gratitude and with hope and open mindedness, and the willingness to walk that unbalanced road, with clear knowledge that so much of the beauty lies in the mayhem
The chapter may end soon, but it’s not the end of the book.
Have you ever lived in the in-between?
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