Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Inciting Incident

Almost a year ago, I made a risky statement. I proudly declared I was going to become a runner, and by spring, I would participate in a 5k. Then in January, I made another proud declaration. I was going to run a 5k in May. Unfortunately that didn't happen. I missed the registration deadline, I fell out of the habit of running and the smallest of my goals continued to sit on my bucket list waiting to be crossed off.

That list is stuck to our freezer door. I see it every day, and every day that seemingly measly goal - run a 5k - sits uncrossed, taunting me. For a while, I wondered why I couldn't accomplish this one goal, why making those declarations really did nothing to advance me toward that finish line. And I think over the summer I figured it out.

In 2010 I've been reading a lot of Don Miller's stuff. Don Miller is a great storyteller - one of my favorites. This summer I read his latest book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In it he explains how to think about life within the framework of a story. In a January 2010 blog post (and in A Million Miles) he says that stories involve "someone who wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it." In the same post, Don says that characters are usually resistant to conflict. They don't really want to change, and they won't unless something forces them to. He calls it an inciting incident - that thing that opens a door into the place of no return.

And I think that's been my problem. There's been no inciting incident. I've not been put in a position of no return. There's always been an option to stop, to turn back.

I thought putting my goals out into endless space of the blog world would force me to run. That writing it down for others to read would provide some sort of strange accountability, because I would hate to have to admit failure. But I found the relative anonymity of blogging didn't quite provide the motivation I thought it would.

So a few weeks ago, Hubby actually sat down registered us for our city's Race for the Cure. We paid good, hard earned money just to pound the pavement. Somewhere my name is on a list with a number next to it, and soon I'll get that number in the mail. Then in a few weeks we will catch the train and head downtown where we will join thousands of others ready to hit the road all in the name of the fight against breast cancer.

I plan to run in honor of my grandmother - a breast cancer survivor - that day.

There you have it folks, my inciting incident - a filled-in entry line. I am now a character overcoming conflict (the struggle of sticking to a training plan) to get something I want (crossing the finish line). There is now a story (honoring my grandmother) giving context to my goal (completing a 5k).

And I've never been more excited to run.

Today, I'm sharing this post as part of Emily's Tuesdays Unwrapped. I wasn't planning on sharing it, but she asked if we happened to be unwrapping a gift that didn't quite start out as one. I didn't see running as a gift until it had a purpose. I didn't see it as a gift until I realized I could honor my family in the process of getting to a finish line. I idn't really see it as a gift until this very moment. So in answer to your question, Emily, this is my gift that didn't start as one. And I love it.


emily freeman said...

I love it. I'm so glad you took some time to see the gift today. Great post...and it reminds me of one of my things on my "101 things in 1001 days" list: Read a book by Donald Miller.

dawn said...

Run, Run, Run! I'm glad you found your inciting incident.

Now I need to read that book by Donald Miller.

Southern Gal said...

I've only read one Donald Miller book and I don't know why it didn't impress me much. Now you've inspired me to try again with that book.

Wishing you the best with the run!

Katie said...

So exciting Kristen. Praying for health while training and that you enjoy every minute of it!