Friday, 18 November 2011
By Tom Zuniga
As a semi-seclusive writer paradoxically desperate for community, I jumped on the opportunity to attend an “art of storytelling” gathering with fellow creatives at my church. And it was there I became convinced that Toy Story 3 is one of the greatest stories of all time.
But don’t just take my word for it. Donald Miller knows what I’m talking about. And we all know Don Miller is spot-on about everything pertaining to life and faith and story — and yeah probably just everything in general, from Dr. Phil to World of Warcraft.
But back to Toy Story 3 being one of the greatest stories of all time. Throughout the entire storytelling session at my church, this very movie was used to illustrate all the marks of a great story: a dramatic central question, a strong chord of emotions, and character transformation.
And these three critical points just so happen to coincide with making our own lives — our own stories — great.
The piercing question surrounding Toy Story 3: is love forever? Or is love only meant to be enjoyed for a season, then to be locked away in a toy chest?
Toy Story 3‘s critical question brings a tremble to my jaw because it resembles my own life-story’s central inquisition. For with every new wandering, I wonder: is this the place I can lay roots and flourish and experience love for decades to come? Will I ever know what that story is like?
By the end of the movie, Woody, Buzz, and Co. learn that love is indeed forever — though maybe not “forever” in the sense they, or we, may have hoped originally.
A chord of emotions
Our hearts collectively explode in Toy Story 3‘s final scene because we’re so conflicted. We celebrate with the toys in their newfound love, and yet their new ownership is also desperately tragic.
Andy moves on. He actually leaves. He doesn’t stay a kid forever; he grows up.
Such overwhelming emotions that yank our hearts in opposite directions.
As a Christian, I take unbelievable comfort in the hope of a “love that lasts forever,” stretching far beyond the restricting rims of my coffin. Love will win in the end, though between now and eternity’s gates, it may not win exactly how I envision it. How I’d write it.
Incredible people will enter my life and incredible people will leave my life; thus, in my hope for the future, I find I often lose hope for the present. Talk about a strong chord of emotions.
As the toys say goodbye to Andy, they experience a transformative rebirth — a new life mirroring what lies beyond humanity’s grave. A fresh start. A new home. Love reborn.
What a movie; what a story.
I wonder: does my life have all the marks of a great story? Is it one worth telling? Lord knows I have the questions and a strong chord of emotions — too strong, if you ask me. But what about that ultimate transformation?
Where is my story going, and will anyone care?
The following Martha Graham quote closed my church’s storytelling session, and I hope it encourages you to unleash your life-story as much as it has me to continue unleashing mine:
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.