Corrupted By The Individual Hero

Stay with me on this one...  It may start personal, but it is about the stories we tell and why...

Yesterday, Vanessa and I began the marathon of unpacking our life in San Francisco. Probably 7 more such sessions to go... Boxes galore!

Our place in SF is 1/2 the size as what we left in NYC (such is the not-for-profit life!). Aching back, some broken dishes, but each new box is a promise and a hope. And every time we empty one, I get more energized.

You don't get many chances to change your life, or to embark on grand adventures with the person you love. Exploring a new city, taking on a new job, making new friends -- our conversations with each other now take on qualities of astronauts or research fellows ("Did you see that?", "Look over there?", "It is not like it was in NYC", "Do you think they'll respond to...").

Maybe the web is not the place to discuss this but it feels like a both a recognition and a revelation (one that I want to share): I am so thankful for having found the someone I wanted to share my life with, share in theirs, and live truly together with (and not just alongside) -- particularly at the moment of taking on new challenges.

Committed relationships are just one of the ways that the false promise of individuality pales in comparison to community, reminding us of how much more we can do when we know others have our back and we have more to focus on than ourselves.  Yet, do we truly have the tools to construct our lives around such dreams?  Are we funneling our focus to something less useful or promising?

That Hollywood tale of the individual hero needs some antidotes so as to not warp minds into thinking there is a reason to face the dragon on your own. Is there another prism that can help us see more clearly?

I spent years trying to convince myself that fighting battles on my own was something to be proud of.  Even as I witnessed again and again with each new movie I produced the awesome power of a team, I still looked at each movie as my own battle.  I have always had a particular type of movie that I loved most dearly (those that capture the complexity & diversity of our lives with emotional truth) -- and that was my mission: to get them made, seen, and appreciated.  Yes, everyone one was a huge collaboration, but I held that mission as my own -- and used that story to give me strength and stamina. I structured my memory of them alongside the tale of the individual hero -- and lost a lot in the process.

But this new adventure of SF reveals cracks in the myth of my past approach.  It left me feeling shut off and a bit angry at times.  As much as I could look at all the incredible contributions people made to getting those movies done, it felt like bands of warriors, with each knight a story on their own.  I strive to get the team on a common goal, a shared agenda, but still saw the individual contributors as unique superheroes -- and not as single community.

It's hard to find the metaphors to examine our lives without having the stories to be the prisms in which we examine our own.  Regardless of the film itself, it is not surprising that THE AVENGERS was the top movie of recent times.  They are not a team, but a band of individuals.  It seems that most Hollywood films that appear to be about teams, are truly about the individuals.  I have seen a lot of British films where the community/ensemble battle the opposition together, but my mind draws a blank for that same structure coming from Hollywood.  No one wants to feel isolated or alienated -- and why should we encourage people to fight the battle on their own.  

There is always a community waiting to form and we have to build the dreams that we will have the other to unpack the boxes together with.  We have been corrupted by the individual hero though, and can't see the community who truly wants to build it better together.