My Bright Abyss

"Humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won't enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen" - Robert McKee

“Humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen” – Robert McKee

Tonight I sat on the same jetty where one year ago around this time, my heart was forever changed. I remember, in one sudden instance I spun around quickly as a wave splashed against the rocks, and she stood there a few steps away, barefoot and smiling, listening to me rant as my job fell apart. My comfort was disrupted, but I was entering a story. Then and there, a veil was lifted and I was overwhelmed with the blazing agony of something fierce and infinite.

A year later, the jetty was still sacred to me, and always would be. I didn’t know if it meant anything to her and she probably wouldn’t say if it did, but in the pain of her absence there was a small whisper of peace. With my heart’s wind lost, broken like a dead sail, and my love having drifted far out to sea, I rested in my loneliness. Even in love’s afterimage, even when love is taken from us, a condition is left in which God can simply be.

I remember sitting in the front seat of her car that night in May, parked right next to Lake Wesley, reading a handwritten letter she hand-delivered to me. I remember a joy I couldn’t contain and didn’t know how to express. I was actually taken by surprise that she wanted to be in a relationship with me because when I originally asked her in my own letter just a few days prior, she remained silent on the issue. That weekend, I convinced myself that if she wanted to date me, she would have said so by now, but I had misunderstood… she was trying to find the right words to respond, and when she did, my story’s greatest chapter unfolded.

Little did I know that a year to the day I’d be living in that very beach town and starting a new and more glorious job than the one I was upset over. Never did I once expect anything like that to happen, but it did, just like some kind of prophecy fulfilled. But it was a year ago around this time when I sat across from her eating pizza, sharing with her every girl horror story I had. Looking back, I often wonder if this was a good idea or not, but I didn’t know “the rules” and I made it clear I was way past “the game.”  I wanted her to know all of the strange, heartbreaking and painful instances that had twisted and distorted my view of girls, and myself. Seven years had gone by since I was in an “official” relationship and I trembled with fear and thrill that I was potentially on the edge of another.

Despite my crushing experiences, I knew I was all in with her, there was never any question about it. The talking came mostly from me, but she listened, and in those bold, dark brown eyes I saw sincerity. I believed for sure she too, meant what she eventually said, that she too, was all in. At the time I didn’t know I was staring into the eyes of the one who would annihilate me. The stories I told her to prepare her for what I’d been through, to give her ample reason to back out, would pale in comparison to the final death blow she’d eventually, a year later, deliver.

In a sweatshirt and shorts, barefoot I sat on the jetty tonight, holding my knees to my chest,  sucking in the salt air and the cool breeze, staring out into the infinite expanse. I imagined her there with me like she was a year ago. The rocks felt slightly eerie, and the waves as if they were haunted by a kind of nothingness, an absence of something that could have been, forcing me out of my impractical daydreaming. I sat for awhile and heard her soft and subtle voice and felt at once, the absent glory of a life that could have been.

But for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t sad. We were designed to live through things rather than attain things, and whatever it was we were meant to live through, it was designed to change us. The point of a story is the character arc, the change. A year later, I was changed. If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. All of it felt literary, and I was glad the story happened. Knowing my story must have been far from over, suddenly the infinite blue expanse stretched out in front of me seemed more like a bright abyss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *