I don’t know if you have ever seen the animated movie Rise of the Guardians, but it’s a sweet and fun movie that depicts Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman as the guardians of childhood, under the guidance of the Man in the Moon. When Pitch Black (the boogeyman) threatens the world, another guardian, Jack Frost, is brought into their ranks to protect the innocence of the children of the world. I was introduced to this movie by a few of my nephews, and it has actually become one of my favorites.
Jack Frost is the central character of the movie, as he first rejects and then slowly accepts his role as a guardian. He doesn’t understand why he was chosen or what he has to offer the children of the world. In a scene where Jack has just outright refused to be a guardian, North (Santa Claus) has a serious heart-to-heart with him about what it really means to be chosen as a guardian. In an onion-like metaphor involving Russian nesting dolls, North explains the many layers of who he is (mysterious, jolly, fearless) but that at his center is this sense of wide-eyed wonder that influences everything else that he does. It’s his center that drives him and gives him the power to be a guardian, and this gives Jack serious pause. Jack doesn’t know what his own center is, what drives him and gives his life purpose and meaning.
Like Jack Frost in the movie, I’ve been struggling to find my center. I’ve always known that I’m meant to be a writer, but what does that mean? A writer of what? What’s the actual purpose behind my writing? Words are my medium, fiction and non-fiction are methods and platforms, but I couldn’t quite figure out what the point was to all of it.
And then I found it, my center, the driving force behind my life: stories.
I’ve always loved stories, regardless of the medium that they come in. Books, movies, TV shows, conversations, articles online. Even my faith and religion I see as the Story, the story of the world and humanity and God’s relationship with us.
Stories are magic. They are wonder and awe.
Like the metaphor in the movie, there are, of course, many layers to who I am, what I’m good at, and what I consider to be important. I love language and words, and how subtle nuances of meaning can change how you view the world or a certain situation. Through my years of study and education, I like to think that I have a pretty solid grip on the finer points of grammar and form. I’m constantly reading, fiction and non-fiction, books, essays, news articles, basically anything that I can get my hands, and it’s given me a better idea of all the different ways that you can use the written word to convey important ideas.
But all of this felt rather meaningless, like I was just killing time, until I figured out what was really important to me (and what I consider to be important to the world). If you have ever had a movie or a book change your life, then you will understand what I mean when I talk about how important stories can be.
As I jump-start my writing this year, I am more motivated than ever to share my stories because I am finally beginning to understand how important they are, both the fiction stories and the true life stories. Fiction is the lies we tell to reveal deeper truths; it allows us to dig into the mysteries of the world and this life without being bound by our own first-hand experiences. But our first-hand experiences are also valuable, because they shine a light on the realities of our everyday lives and allow us to relate and grow closer to each other.
What is your center? Have you found it, or are you still searching it out?