This week we’ve been using story structure to explore conflict in our own lives. We’ve boldly stared down the external conflicts that chase us and the internal ones that haunt our story. Now, to a third category of conflict.
You against the world.
In story structure this has many names. It’s “Man versus nature” and “Man versus society”. Some call it “Interactional Conflict.” But I like Don Miller’s framing of it as a “Philosophical Problem.” It’s this idea that your story is set in the midst of a larger struggle, a struggle that poses big questions. In Miller’s piece How to Tell a Story he gives a few examples from Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Bridget Jone’s Diary:
“Examples of Philosophical Problems: Frodo (Will good win out over evil? Will group interests win out over self interest?) Luke Skywalker (Will good win out over evil? Will group interest win out over self interest? Will benevolence win out over greed? Will freedom win out over tyranny?) Bridget Jones (Is life fair? Can love win out over lust? Can self-love and self-acceptance be enough?)”
I’ll take this to the personal level…because I hope you will too.
At the beginning of this series I shared that I’ve carved out a career of chasing and crafting other people’s stories, and yet I have struggled to tell my own. So, a philosophical question emerges: Does everyone have a story to tell (including me) or only a select group?
Then I shared an even more raw desire: I long to know and be known, love and be loved in deeper ways in this season. My internal conflict has had me asking: Am I too much or want too much? And here are a few of my philosophical ones: Can authentic relationships be found through dating apps and digital platforms? Can one show up with congruency in environs that feel incongruent? And, if I go all Philosophy 101 on this: Can anyone be truly known by another? And…what is love?
Here’s what I appreciate about this third form of conflict : It reveals that our stories hold big, brave questions. If we can recognize that–and especially if we can carry those questions with us to the end of our journey–we have the potential to gain a surety in our step, a solidness in our soul that will embolden us in the thousand other journeys ahead.
May that be so. For you. For me. For us.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.