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FINDING TRUE NORTH

onist to get unstuck, get on with it—treasure the circumstances of his or her own life. The shifts that are undertaken may be related to one’s life stage and development, or they may be related to an evolution of needs, independent of the stage in life. Throughout our lives, all of these structures are useful, but, depending on the cultural zeitgeist or more personal issues that we are dealing with, one or more of the structures will seem more relevant. For example, the Paradise structures may be very compelling to the overwrought Ruler who is wishing that he or she could simply exit that life, cast off the trappings of success, and enjoy everyday pleasures—in short, the wish of the Ruler to become the Innocent. The Paradise Visited story pattern speaks to this pining: The protagonist inadvertently stumbles into an earthly paradise, savors its simplicity for a moment, but then reluctantly realizes that he or she must return to business as usual. Films such as Witness and Local Hero speak to this yearning and realization—“You can have a taste of a simpler, better life, but then you must return to where you belong.” Vacation sites targeted to the Ruler can tap into the Paradise Visited story. The story pattern reminds us of the enormous appeal pure simplicity holds for people with overly complicated lives. Like Harrison Ford living among the Amish in Witness, the ability to savor pure Innocent pleasure, however momentary, is irresistible. The Paradise Found structure takes that yearning to another plane. In this pattern, the protagonist is in stasis. He may have a problem he needs to deal with or a vague sense that things could be better, but he has no plan. Then he stumbles into a perfect place, where life is simple, priorities are in order, and he can take time to smell the roses. At first he struggles with the strangeness of it all, but over time, its beauty begins to reveal itself to him. He is called back to his ordinary world and reluctantly leaves the Innocent paradise. He attempts to return to the life he was living, but he can’t cope as he did before; now that he knows too much, he has been irreversibly transformed by the process. He finds the Utopia again and chooses to stay there. The stories that reflect this pattern go far beyond the idea of just breaking the surface and putting a toe in the water: The protagonist takes the plunge and changes his or her life. Consider the film Baby Boom, with Diane Keaton.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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