If you’ve ever spent time studying story structure (especially screenwriting), you know that the world in Act 2 of a film or book is drastically different from the one in Our Hero left in Act 1. In a movie, Act 2 will take up about 1 hour of a 2 hour film. So it’s a really important part of a story, and it’s a time of testing and trials.
And for the majority of stories you read, the world of Act 2 is the one place in the entire whole of existence that the hero absolutely does NOT want to go. He usually has to be prodded, sometimes forcefully, into that world.
Into the unknown.
Very few of us want to go there. For Neanderthal man, the dark cave held the danger of an animal that would quickly maul it to death once entered. So is it any wonder we’re not too keen on the unknown?
- Saying yes to the unknown means that you’re accepting the NOW, not staying in anticipation of the future. Remember our friend the amygdala? The future is just a place of fear for that guy. There is nothing in the future that is positive or work out, period. It has no evidence of how the future will be, so it defaults to good old habitual fear.
- Even if you can manage the amygdala to downgrade to a fear of uncertainty, which is a chance for things to go either “good” or “bad” as it terms things, it will go towards fear. As you’re walking into the bank, they amygdala will convince you that the loan officer will tell you know, as soon as she finishes laughing at you.
- If you’re going to be successful, uncertainty means that you have to take one small decision at a time, convinced that the course you’re taking is worth it.
- This is where meditating really comes in handy. At its root, meditation is focusing on the present, and no other time. If you can train yourself to be aware of the present without judging it, you can make a huge leap towards conquering the amygdala’s fear of the future.
Previously in the series: