In narrative structure, especially in movies, there is a component called the “inciting incident.” This is the moment when the seemingly comfortable story begins to build a conflict. Without the inciting incident, we’re far less likely to stay engaged with the story.
Imagine watching William Wallace battle England in Braveheart without having first watched the murder of his wife. The inciting incident gives grounds for the story to escalate.
This past weekend Rose and I packed up and moved our lives. For the past few weeks we’ve packed all our things into boxes, piles of them. This act of gathering, packing, and shipping, was a constant reminder of moving from comfort to chaos.
What was once neatly organized in desks, drawers, and cupboards is now neatly organized in a massive pile of boxes in the living room, dining room, bedrooms, and garage.
Part of me hates this. I like comfort. Who doesn’t?
So much of what is up ahead is unknown now. I’ve taken a step beyond my life of comfort and organization, but now all I feel is some sort of delirium.
Will I thrive in my new role?
Will I miss Portland (stupid question right? of course I will) too much?
Will Rose and I be able to make meaningful friendships quickly?
Will I find a way to pastor, write, and be a good dad (not in that order)?
In our narrative culture we often become worshipers of inciting incidents without realizing its implications. Gone is the comfort. Gone is the status quo. Everything is being challenged and rebuilt in a new way.
I’m here in a new place, working with new people, taking in the new experiences, all while unpacking boxes. It feels like walking onto the edge of a precipice, wondering how far you could fall or fly.
I know not what lies ahead.
I cannot give you the answers to the questions I have.
This is the blessing and the curse of inciting incidents—they forge a new path that has not been walked.
This post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents (Moody Press), a book featuring the stories of six creatives who share honestly about surviving life’s difficulties while attempting to do great things. You can visit the “Share Your Story” section of IncitingIncidents.Org to check out posts from other synchroblog contributors, or visit the sites of the authors: Sarah Cunningham, Jeff Goins, Dave Hickman, Blaine Hogan, Tracee Persiko, Stephanie Smith, Mandy Thompson and David Wenzel. In addition, you can hear more about the project in this NPR-style interview series by Moody Radio.