Know your path. Tread boldly. Be reborn.
I’m not religious. But this year, I’ve thought a lot about the symbolism of Easter. For Christians, it represents the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of eternal life. But for everyone else, there is a message, too.
In the Easter story, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, subjected to a sham trial, and executed. Two days later, he rises from the dead and his friends and followers are all gob-smacked (or God-smacked, perhaps).
This story provides the foundation of Christian faith. But like all good stories, it contains some universal ideas. It is fundamentally a message of hope and rebirth, which we all have access to, regardless of religion. As a storyteller, I’m interested in how these universal ideas can be applied.
There are three key points:
Know your path
Jesus knew who he was. He had a strong sense of purpose. He didn’t hesitate or stray from his path.
He also knew that, on paper, it wasn’t going to end well for him. He knew he would be betrayed by one of his friends and die a horrible death. But he went ahead anyway, because he saw the big picture.
The resurrection isn’t simply a continuation, or reboot, of life as it was before. Things could never be the same after what happened- and that was the whole point. The resurrection was a kind of revolutionary act, cleaving a chasm between the old and the new and building a bridge to transition between them.
As a symbol, rebirth has a powerful intuitive appeal because it is deeply encoded in nature: through the seasons, for example.
These points apply very well in other arenas of life, too, and you don’t have to be spiritual or religious to get some value from them. Let me give you an example from my own life:
Over the last year, I’ve seen everything turned upside down, like everyone else. Lockdowns took away freedoms I’d taken for granted, and the business I was running, which revolved around travelling and filming, ground to a halt.
Initially this was very scary. Was this the end? How was I going to make a living?
I hunkered down for a while, thinking about my next moves, until I realised… that I didn’t actually want to make a living in the same way any more. Importantly, I also realised that things might never go back to the way they were (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
I have always been a storyteller, and that’s not going to change. But the crisis helped me realise that I was telling too many stories that revolved around short term gain (ad campaigns, and so on, have a limited shelf life). In other words, the path I was on wasn’t quite right. In fact, if I’m really honest, it felt a bit disjointed and project driven: and a project is not a path!
So I decided to focus on telling the stories that I want to tell- the ones that I think will make a difference- and helping others to do the same. This involved killing off the old way of doing things and making a leap into uncharted territory. No half measures. Death and rebirth. I still have moments when I question myself, but the more bold steps I take in this direction, the more I know it was the right choice.
Jesus faced his path, his tormentors and his demons in this way: with conviction and boldness- and came out the other side. You don’t have to believe in literal resurrection to get some inspiration from that.