[Complacency] is a cousin to narcissism in expecting experience to conform to a pattern already familiar to oneself; experience seems to repeat routinely rather than evolve.**
Communities have often been an accident of birth. Built by geography and parentage, you established your identity and your learning long before you went to school. Now, of course, this is changing.^
Complacency requires that we disengage from the unpredictable possibilities of life for the safety of a familiar pattern.
This also means we are in danger of becoming a cliché; what is true for the storywriter is true for each of us:
Like the weeds of repetition, clichés grow in the barren mind of the lazy writer.^^
Clichés work for the storywriter until they don’t; the same is true for us.
The thing about complacency is that it doesn’t want to be noticed. The game is up if we see our lives have become a repeating pattern closed to the unfamiliar and unpredictable.
To read is to take a stranger’s hand and plunge into experiences you want and don’t want, learning all the while to navigate the unexpected places real life will take you.*^
When we read something different, ask questions, experiment outside of the norm then we are disrupting the cliché; Robert McKee’s counsel for the storywriter works for all of us:
To create insightful, original stories, set yourself high standards and never settle for the obvious choice. Indeed, never settle for the first choice. Write it down, sure, then improvise, experiment, pour out as many ideas as your talent can create.^^
(*Thanks to Stingray for the title.)
(**From Richard Sennett’s Together.)
(^From Seth Godin’s blog: A community of practice.)
(^^From Robert McKee’s newsletter: How You Can Win the War on Cliché.)
(*^From Krista Tippett‘s letter to young readers in Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)