Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

I’ve been working on the last minute updates to Falling Star in preparation for submitting it to a contest at the end of this month (July).  I’d narrowed it down to two places – a follow-up entry to BlueCat or a taste of something different with Big Break.

My wife and I walked 2000 steps discussing the pros and cons of each.  I chose BlueCat.  It comes down to feedback.  With BlueCat you get some, in writing, and they announce their results in tiers so you know how far you made it.  If I’m going to plunk down my cash on an entry, I don’t want a lottery ticket.  I want feedback.

With everything decided, last minute notes coming in, and only a quick pass or two left before I ship it out, an odd thing happened.  I lost faith.  This script that I spewed out in a couple of weeks and then have labored over ever since – tweaking, editing, completely rewriting – the script that I admitted to a select few close friends was probably the best thing I’d written, suddenly wasn’t very good.

In fact, it was awful.  Not even close to the quality of what I’ve been reading lately.  Who am I to enter it into BlueCat when it clearly isn’t as good as Prisoners?

Where was that voice when I first started, warning me that I was about to waste a lot of time and should really do something else more worthwhile – like watch YouTube videos?  I asked it.  No answer.  (Strange looks from the folks sitting next to me on the train through.)

My script may not be good enough to win.  But maybe it is.  I’ve gotten better and last year I made the top 10%.  The story was different, probably better, but the writing is much better now.  I know this because when I look at my entry from last year I cringe a little.  Not a lot, but enough to know that I’m still improving.

I think, maybe, that the fear holding me back now isn’t whether or not the script is good enough.  It’s the fear of letting it go.  Now I have to start over.  Meet new characters.  Make their lives awful so that you will be entertained.  I have to pick an idea that I like so much I’m good working with it until after Christmas.

Christmas.  That’s after NaNoWriMo.  Should I do that again this year?  Oh my.  Focus, Jon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

That Stings

Another summer week slipped by.  The weather reports have been a bit gloom and doom compared to what’s actually occurred so we had a pleasant excursion on the boat Saturday.  It’s possible that we even toasted marshmallows on the beach so close to the water that when the wake came in it splashed out the lower section of our heat source.

That Stings
By Jon Stark; July, 2014.

Tommy poked at the back of the pew in front of him.  He traced the scrollwork down to the book rack and then along the top of the hymnal.  Somewhere, far, far away, words were being flung toward him, important words, but that washed over him.

Lift up a signal flag toward Zion.  Run for cover!  Don’t stand still!  For I am brining disaster from the north – a great destruction.

Tommy’s mother nodded her head.  Tommy’s father stared straight ahead.  Tommy slipped from the pew to the floor.  The gum was still were it was last week.  And the month before.  Mrs. Tornafioraro’s feet smelled.  But it was quieter.

A lion has gone up from his thicket; a destroyer of nations has set out.  He has left his lair to make your land a waste.  Your cities will be reduced to uninhabited ruins.

There was a hole in the carpet that hadn’t been there before.  Tommy poked at it.  It went down into the wood.  It was deep.  His finger got stuck partway down and he felt a sliver pricking into him.  He looked up and saw that his parents were still not paying any mind.  Very slowly he reached for a pencil from the book rack.  With the patience of a safe cracker he pulled it out and down to the hole.  He looked carefully at it, then inserted the pencil.

“On that day” – this is the Lord’s declaration – “the king and the officials will lose their courage.  The priests will tremble in fear, and the prophets will be scared speechless.”

Tommy pushed the pencil down.  He felt a little resistance and pushed harder.  There was something down there.  He felt a slight vibration in the pencil was pretty sure that the droning he heard wasn’t the preacher.

He watched a vespula climb up the pencil.  It stared at him with its compound eyes.  He stared back.  It seemed to multiply as Tommy watched it.  Where there had been one he now saw twenty and they all stared and it was loud.

They have her surrounded like those who guard a field, because she has rebelled against Me.  This is the Lord’s declaration.  Your way of life and your actions have brought this on you.  This is your punishment.  It is very bitter, because it has reached your heart!

The vespula flew at Tommy and he screamed.  They stung and where there had been twenty there were now a hundred.  His parents turned to hush him and then screamed too.  A vast cloud of yellow and black swarmed from the hole in the floor and consumed the congregation.  At the front of the sanctuary, stuffy old men stared back in condescension that quickly turned to fear, then panic, then terror.

My anguish, my anguish!  I write in agony!  Oh, the pain in my heart!

The doors burst open and the faithful, now swollen and crying out, erupted into the sunshine.  Tommy lead the throng with his parents close behind.  “Thomas J. Sennett!” said his father.  “How many times do I have to tell you not disturb church?”

“Leave him alone.” said his mother.  “And keep your voice down before someone notices we’ve gone to our car.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Way, Way Back

I’ve been on a roll lately for reading good scripts and The Way, Way Back kept the streak going.  It was laugh out loud funny (probably because it’s totally my kind of humor and rocked the ‘80s) but I can’t help but think there was more to it than that.

The voice was just plain fun.  The tone of everything.  Serious matters where discussed, events happened, people changed, but despite the upheaval, it still read like a great summer vacation.  The basic idea is that a 14 year old boy is dragged out to a beach vacation by his mother’s boyfriend.  He’s introverted and wants to be with his father instead.

We meet a remarkable cast of characters that are distinct and consistent and comfortable, like watching TV Land.  Naturally, our protagonist comes out of his shell and gets the girl, but it isn’t quite the way you would expect – if you read straight through like you were watching and don’t spend too much time analyzing.  The flow of the story is smooth and logical and while I caught myself wondering, about halfway through, if anything was actually going to happen, I immediately countered with, ‘I don’t care, it’s smooth reading and fun, so who cares?’

Sort of like summer vacation.

The writing is top shelf.  It’s easy to read without being stilted or condescending.  The cultural references add tremendous flavor while also lending a bit of street cred to the whimsical/reflective nature of the story.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the visualizations are powerful.  Fat kid knocking loose the kids wedged in the water slide.  Teenage boy singing his heart out on “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore.”  Adults arguing about whether Mr. Mister sang, “Kyrie Elision” or “Carry a laser.”  An entire scene composed of break-dancing moves.  Pac Man at the pizza joint.

Totally awesome.

I think I’m going to read it again.  Today.  I will certainly read it again next summer.  I mean, I had those conversations with my friends when I was 14.  And I still sing my heart out on “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There's dark, and then there's DARK

I had an interesting conversation last week that sort of got me thinking about some potential story elements.  The next morning I went for a 7 mile run and saw a vulture sitting on a rickety old barn early on.  It all sort of swirled together and I got back with pretty complete story outline.  I'm not quite sure about writing it yet so I thought I'd write out a scene and see how it went.


Elise looked out of the window and watched the tree line at the edge of the field.  The air was still and nothing moved in the moon light.  But something had disturbed her.  She listened intently and heard nothing except her own breathing.

She crept into the hallway, unsure of herself.  There must have been something.  She checked her daughter’s room.  Empty.  As it always was.  She took a moment for the inevitable sorrow to seep away before shutting the door.

The old farmhouse creaked as she made her way to the stairs.  It had a life of its own, like an old sailing ship adrift and long forgotten.  Moonlight sifted in through cracked and broken windows.  A draught caught at the hem of her nightgown, tickling her as it fled up the stairs and out of the hole in the roof.

Dread wrestled with anticipation when she reached the top of the stairs.  Whatever it was, it was down there.  She peered into the gloom 13 steps below her, phlegm catching in her throat and adding a rhythmic rasping to the night.

She pulled her hand from the wall and stepped forward.  The darkness of her shadow clung to the peeling wallpaper, the shadow taking a moment to peel from the yellowed print to catch up with her.

Elise floated gracefully down the stairwell, her feet unmoving and her hand hovering inches above the railing.  Behind her, the paper peeled away revealing charred plaster – cracked and broken.  At the bottom she settled onto the hardwood floor and turned toward the kitchen.

The cold floor on her feet woke her.  Elise lay on her back in bed, the covers kicked off, every light blazing, drenched in sweat and staring into the face of darkness.  She couldn’t move.  She couldn’t close her eyes.  She couldn’t turn away from the cloud that hung over her.

It was a swirling mass, oppressive with a weight that threatened to crush her.  She struggled for breath, against the force that held her still, against the terror that consumed her.  It was an evil thing – no, it was evil.  It reeked of stale death.

Down it came, settling on her.  It enveloped her, oozing between her toes, over her skin.  She screamed again and when it was done, when she fought to draw a breath, her aching lungs drew it inside of her.  Her body jerked and she arched her back, impossibly, for what might have passed as an eternity.  Then she collapsed.

It was late when the sun finally woke her, afternoon at least, and she was groggy.  The lights were on and Elise began to shake as memory overcame sleep and dark bile rose in her throat.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Freshly Chopped Basil, et. al.

It's the last day of vacation.  I was supposed to have written this post in the car over a week ago so I wouldn't have to worry about it.  I didn't.  Then I was going to write it first thing this morning, but there was horse, and a car that needed to get to the shop but still had the roof dongle attached and then there was the jungle that two of my boys were ready to mow if I could get the mower started for them.

But the mower didn't want to start.  It purrs like a kitten now.  And the jungle is mowed.  But there was the time lost... and the weed whacking that also required a bit of mechanical persuasion so that by the time I got to breakfast it was really almost lunch time.

After lunch I was supposed to go to the grocery store since pretty much everything in the kitchen was empty.  I went before lunch, since breakfast was so late.  While I was out the garage called and the car was fixed.  That was swell.  I made it home with groceries and the car in time for a 3 o'clock lunch.  I considered writing the post then but I had purchased the ingredients for my roasted potato salad and it's best if it's had a chance to steep so I made that.
Not random, clever.  Very clever.

If you haven't had it, you should make it because there is nothing that smells so wonderful.  Roast red potatoes and whole kernel corn.  Chop bell peppers and half a sweet onion, mix with sliced cherry tomatoes, freshly chopped Basil (the best) and chopped garlic -- don't use the press on this one -- while everything is roasting.  Combine balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil and pour over the veggies.  About the time you finish that, the potatoes and corn will be done and you put that in the bowl over top of the rest and shake it around a bit.  Then you either eat it hot or put it in the fridge where it slowly gets even better over the course of the next 5 days.  On day six toss it.  But you won't get that far.

After that I was ready to write the post but the boys got back from Jake's house and they want to play so I guess I won't get the post done.  Maybe Wednesday.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rush -- The script behind the film

For today’s post you need to know a little something about me.  I like cars.  Most cars are interesting to me.  European sports cars (except for Porsches) will distract me from pretty much everything.  My first car was a Triumph TR7 – and no, if you enter it as the answer to password challenge question it won’t get you in.  I’ve always wanted a Lotus.  Any Lotus, even a Europa.  This morning I saw a Mini Cooper with a “Bazinga” graphic and immediately felt the cold clutch of envy.

For me, the only motorsport worth watching (other than Rally) is Formula 1.  Always has been.  I’m not sure how old I was the first time I saw a F1 car making the circuit – maybe 4? – but I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.  I should quantify that.  If I’m anywhere that has a F1 race on I want to watch it, but the last season I actively followed was 1994 when Senna died.  The period that really captured my imagination was the late sixties/early seventies when everything changed.  The era of Rindt and Moss.  Lotus, Ferrari, McLaren.  In my opinion 1970 was perhaps the greatest season ever.

Rush is the story of the 1976 Gran Prix season and the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt.  I’m biased.  It was very well written.  It captured the attitude of the drivers, the circus that supports them, and the life v death tension of racing at that level.  It’s an adult script, filled with substance abuse, references to promiscuous sexual activity, and gore which earn the film its ‘R’ rating, but the prose is more like reporting than describing.  D.H. Lawrence was far more descriptive in the novel I read for high school English.  And it isn’t all bad either, whilst Hunt is the carefree playboy party animal, Lauda is a the meticulous businessman, introverted and monogamous, who is successful because of his incredible self-control.   Hunt is often criticized for his lifestyle and attitude and actually admits to a bit of self-loathing.

Rush is a work of historical fiction.  I don’t know either Hunt or Lauda but their representation is an accurate reflection of how they were portrayed in the press.  The on and off track sequences are tied together seamlessly and if you don’t believe that a written description of an auto race can get your adrenaline flowing, you should read this script.  Or the book Gran Prix Year.

The script did well at distilling the essence of the rivalry between these two great drivers and turning it into a compelling story, complete with sub plots, action, love stories, and character arcs.  Dramatizing actual events is an incredibly difficult task but Rush makes it look easy.  Interestingly, I found this story to be far more compelling and suspenseful than the fictitious Driven – even knowing how it all turned out.  The true story is so good that heavy handed creative license wasn’t required.

As I said, I’m biased, but…

“When I saw it the first time I was impressed. There was no Hollywood changes or things changed a little bit Hollywood-like. It is very accurate. And this really surprised me very positively.” -Niki Lauda (Carjam TV Interview, September, 2013)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A memory saved is a story earned

It appears that all of those folks who say who say that disrupting your usual routine is great for creativity are correct.  I've left routine far behind and am nearly drowning in fresh bits to season future narratives.  There's the giant buzzard on top of the decrepit barn that watched me run by.  Then the rabid koi.  I was sneezed out of a giant nose, saw how a nuclear reactor works, was nearly killed twice by people in black trucks, heard great quotes...

The list runs for a quite a long way, covering funny to scary, delicious to gross, mundane to profound.  I actually worked out an entire story during a run that I shared with cows, corn, and nasty flies.  Now if only I could find the time to write it down.

Seems that breaking apart routine isn't all roses.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Over Hill and Dale

Sometimes the inspiration for a story isn’t inspiration at all.  It’s the story.  There isn’t even any point in changing the names of the people involved.  In those cases, what separates a good tale from a news report is the telling.

I hope this is a good telling.

Over Hill and Dale

I found myself traveling over the hill alone this morning.  It was a combination of when I woke up and the nature of my mission that led to that state, it was only 8:15 and I was going to practice my offertory at the church.  Not especially exciting for anyone else and, since we were on vacation, a bit too early.

But not too early for beer, apparently.  As I drove down the hill into the quaint, 23 house dorf, I spied a man stumbling toward me.  I slowed, wondering what sort of ailment had befallen him and discovered that 1) he was much younger than I had expected, 2) had a walking cast on his left foot, and 3) was carrying not bags of groceries for his starving grandchildren but instead a case of beer for himself.

The broken foot and youth are what swayed me.  I asked if he needed a ride.  I felt it was fairly safe, I didn’t have a specific time to be anywhere and, really, how far could a kid with a broken foot need to go?

Turns out it was only about 178 yards.  Our conversation went like this.

M:  Do you need a ride?
D:  That would awesome.  I just live up there, it isn’t far, but thank you.  Thank you so much.  [He climbed into the car]  I’m really frustrated because the sheriff’s office doesn’t open until 8 and I’ve been trying to get a hold of them because last night I put my prescription meds on the windowsill and somebody stole them.  Who does that?  So I don’t have any meds and I’m trying to get a hold of the sheriff to get a report.  You’d think it would be okay to leave your stuff out but I guess not.  It’s the one with the blue mailbox.
M:  That one?
D:  Yes.  I’m Dale by the way.
M:  I’m John.
D:  Thanks for the ride.
M:  No problem.  I’m sorry about your meds.

D: I just want to feel better.  [He climbed out of the car]

Friday, July 11, 2014

A much more down to earth take on Taken

You may (or may not) recall that I made the first cut in the Blue Cat screenplay competition.  One of the winners generated a lot of buzz because his script got picked up for production and had Hugh Jackman behind it.  I’ve just finished the script, Prisoners, and it is fantastic.

I mean that.  It is an amazing story.  Completely drew me in.  It was so well written that at one point I actually jumped.  Just like I would have watching.  I think I even made a noise because some of the people on the train looked at me.  It’s that good.

I don’t know how good the movie is, but this is an amazing piece of writing.  Sparse but seasoned.  It’s paced well and even now, fifteen minutes later, my adrenaline is still flowing.  It reminded a little of A Simple Plan in that the basic story line was very straightforward but just kept building with more twists and setbacks on every page.

I’m not sure that I’ve a read a script that built tension so well.  It’s a gradual increase, no jumps, and there’s not let up.  Like the fish in science class on the Bunsen burner, you get warmer and warmer without realizing that you’re about to boil and then – you boil.

The story is about the kidnapping of two young girls and what their parents (and the police) do to find them.  It’s disturbing.  It’s violent.  It’s gory.  There’s a bit of bad language.  It’s… a nightmare.  But through that darkness is a tale of people who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

I have children.  I am terrified that one day one of them will be taken.  I remember Sarah Woods.  And when I think about how far I would go to get my child back I think about Sarah’s parents, their trust in God and forgiveness of the man who took her and I feel guilty because I know that I would not be able to do that.

This story looks at the other direction, at how far Everyman would fall to get back his little girl.  Snakes and all.  If you’re up for it, you can find the script here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Virtual Reality Snark

So I got a little mixed up with the schedule this week and posted inspiration on Monday.  Old habits, you know?  Don’t worry, Friday’s is accurate (I wrote it last week after I finished the script it’s about.  WOW.)

At any rate, here’s this week’s bit of short fiction.

Virtual Reality
by Jon Stark
July, 2014; 546 words
There’s a lot of talk these days about virtual reality.  The ‘new technology’ that’s going to change everything.  Just like it did 20 years ago.  Sure, The Lawnmower Man looks campy now, but its promise was very alluring back then.  Sort of like these silly goggles now.  Or the glasses with HUDs – Heads Up Displays.

But guess what, everybody?  You don’t need those goofy gadgets to tap into a virtual reality experience.  You’re already in it.  Ever watch cable news and wonder what planet the anchors are living on?  It’s Earth, but they’re living in their own virtual reality.  And the Mayor of Toronto – Bob B. Smokinstill?  Total VR junkie.

It isn’t just the rich and famous either.  We were discussing the global poverty crisis at work the other day and a man I’ll call Jim crashed the conversation to tell us all that he completely understood because with the cost of gas going up he could barely afford his interest only mortgage on account of the two truck payments, the new snowmobile from last winter and the last three years of payments on the old snowmobile that he bought four years ago plus the big screen he bought for the Super Bowl only came with 6 months of no payments so he’s going to have to come up with another $15 per month to cover the minimum on that.  We nodded, hoping he’d leave.  But there was more.  Apparently he couldn’t afford the 34 foot 5th wheel camper he was planning to buy, something about his credit, and had to settle on the 26 foot model with only two slide outs.  “So yeah,” he said, “I totally get the poverty problem.”

And then there was the lady at Big Food Big Savings.  She was offended that I wouldn’t let her in front of me in the checkout line just because she had a couple of screaming kids and had only stopped in for formula and diapers and was late.  Sorry, Lady.  I’ve been here for hours filling these two carts.  If you wanted to be ahead of me in line, you should have left the brats in the car.  The warped sense of entitlement some people have.  I should have let the air out of her tires in the parking lot.  That would have taught her to leave extra time in her schedule for the unexpected.

Twice this morning on the drive in I had to speed up to keep some Mario Andretti wannabe from being able to pass by going around.  I hate in when the traffic is moderate, people think it’s okay to just zoom around because there’s a little bit of space.  All that’s going to happen is that they’ll get stuck at a red light.  The one guy got really upset and started honking his horn at me and flipped on his emergency lights.  I threw my mostly empty coffee cup out the window at him at the next light.  “Here you go, Copper, sorry I don’t have a doughnut to go with it,” I said.  Those lights are for emergencies, not to fill your belly.  Abuse of power and position.  Why?  Because they’re all living in a virtual reality.

Makes it hard for those of us in the real world.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mondays aren’t nearly as bad when the weather is like this and the weekend was as awesome as mine was.  I realize that it’s sort of oxymoronic to think Monday isn’t so bad after a good weekend, after all, wouldn’t I like the weekend to continue?

Of course I would.  But I’d also like to have a 65’ Nordhaven and the money to operate it.  There are certain things that are beyond our control and we make the pie we have fruit for, not the one we’d like to have fruit for.

And I really like the boat I have now.  It suits my lifestyle and Friday (the Fourth) when the fam and I snuck down to the river for a few hours between birthday parties (one for #3’s friend, the other for America) someone riding in a dingy that had been launched from a 2 or 3 year old Cruisers 455 expressed a bit of envy for my Sunesta.  Forget that the river was so choppy that my children screamed in terror the moment we pulled out of the creek forcing an immediate return to calmer waters.  Or that the calmer waters were still so choppy and windblown that we dragged our anchor at 1.6 miles per hour.  I was very happy to be where I was.

The party for the 4th was also a blast.  The community put on a very good fireworks show and being able to walk home from our neighbor’s house instead of fighting traffic was a huge bonus.  The traffic situation was not quite as good on Saturday when we went to the National’s game but it was mostly foot traffic so we got by.  38,463 people paid to get into the stadium.  It wasn’t full.  That’s more people than lived in my county while I was growing up.  It was a very good game (I’m not a Chicago fan) and my family loved it.  We were in the top deck, back row so the breeze kept us cool and we could see absolutely everything.

On the trip home there was some excitement on the metro.  Apparently someone failed to hold on to the hand of the young child that she was responsible for and during one of the stops he ended up on the platform while she stayed in the train.  Fortunately it was one of the shortest legs and since there was nothing in the news, the story must have had a happy ending.  I have been wondering which sort of reunion it was.  I’ve seen both the “hugs and joy” kind and the “angry with punishment” kind.  I’ve been hoping for hugs but the cynical Jon says that someone who would hug also would not have let go in the first place.

Then there was yesterday.  Also wonderful.  A much less choppy trip to the river.  With the dog that tried to drown me last summer.  He did much better this time.  And he didn’t pee in my boat.

We’re given a good life.  Don’t forget that.  Bad things happen but your experience doesn’t have to be defined or polluted by them.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Close the Loop

Welcome to the Fourth of July post.  I’ve cheated a bit and am writing on the Third of July, though that’s neither here nor there because if you’ve subscribed to the email delivery, you probably aren’t seeing this until the Fifth of July.  Anyway, how about we look at a script with some fireworks?

Looper is a film that I have read a lot about in my “become a successful screenwriter” circles.  It’s lauded for all sorts of things ranging from how time travel is [not] explained to brilliant characterization.  It does all of those things, sure, but at heart, it’s a great action story that moves at the pace of a Bourne and I enjoyed it.

I did not watch the movie because there’s a lot of extra content boosting it solidly into ‘R’ territory and as I’ve covered in the past, that’s not entertainment to me.  I was hesitant about the script but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by several films and I was curious about the story.  I mean really, time traveling hit men?  That’s just neat.

The script left nearly everything to the imagination, descriptions were not especially graphic and the adult language was minimal – nothing like trying to read Tarantino.  I did find parts of it confusing and flipped back a few pages more than once.  I think that’s because the writer was also the director so he knew exactly what he wanted to film and was able to explain things to everyone else on set.  I certainly couldn’t get away with some of the scenes, everybody’d be saying, “What?”

The basic premise is here on IMDB.  I found the world to be consistent and believable.  I really liked how different old and young Joe were.  They were the same at the core, but experience and age changed Joe.  I also liked that it wasn’t a walk in the park for any of the characters.  There were setbacks and then more setbacks.  Flashbacks were handled very smoothly.  And there was a lot of action.

I read it quickly and wasn’t sure how it was going to end.  There were several possible outcomes that would have made sense.  I wasn’t expecting the one chosen.  But it worked very well.  I can see why the script appealed to Bruce Willis.

One of the more “famous” scenes from the film involves old and young Joe sitting in a diner discussing time travel.  They don’t explain it.  They say it’s complicated and move on.  Sometimes you don’t have to explain how everything works, you just need a world where it makes sense that it would be there.  Like here, on the train, there are a hundred iPhone.  It would take forever to explain how they work to you…

If you like reading scripts or loved the movie, I do recommend Looper but if you’re just getting started there are better choices.  It was much easier to follow than Django Unchained but then so was “Canterbury Tales.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Potential: Use it or Lose it

The older you get, the less value potential has in your life.  It’s like a battery, or a pile of rocks on the castle wall.  If you never put the battery in something, that energy is completely wasted.  Same for the pile of rocks – if you don’t drop them on the heads of unsuspecting invaders, you’ve labored in vain to put them up there.  (Please note, I’m note arguing against defensive preparations, just using heavy physical objects for an example as a nod to science’s potential energy vs. kinetic energy.)

I may have the science wrong, it’s been many years since Mr. Wagner tried to teach me anything about physics.  I refused to learn.  Things escalated so far that I dropped the course and went back to the “new and improved” earth science.  I liked Mr. Wagner, he taught me chemistry, but I did not like physics.

Let’s go back to potential in your life.  When you are young, potential is a great thing.  The more you have, the better.  It gives you choices.  You can add to your potential.  Great stuff.  But when you get out into the world, you have to start using it.  For some folks, that’s tough.  Using potential means you don’t have as much anymore.  Fewer choices.  But along with few choices comes more accomplishments.  And accomplishment creates more potential.

Ask anyone who has had work done on their home.  Is it better to have a crew that is capable of doing good work or a crew that is doing great work?  I suspect that you have far more potential than you think.  Use it.  Live up to what you are capable of being.  There is a parable in the Bible about a wealthy lord who leaves town and entrusts a portion of his treasure to three servants.  When he returns, he interviews them one by one.  To the first he gave 5 billion dollars.  The servant invested it and returned 10 billion to the master.  The second he gave 3 billion dollars.  That servant also invested it and returned 6 billion to the master.  To the third servant he gave 1 billion dollars.  That servant returned the 1 billion to the master upon his return saying, “I know you are a hard master and would hold me accountable for each dollar so I buried to keep it safe.”  The master was furious.  “You wasted it.  Even if you had only put it in the bank I would have earned interest.  Instead you did nothing.”  The servant cringed.  Then the master said, “Give his billion to the one who has 10.  He has proven himself faithful.”  (Or something very close to that.)

What’s the point?  DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR POTENTIAL other than burying it.  You’ll find that you keep getting more.