I realized today that I’m in a new story. I’m lost and confused and feel like I’ve missed some important piece of information. This means that I’m in the middle of it, which is a place to start from if you can’t keep it together enough to recognize the beginning when it happens.
But the middle is actually my favorite place to start, because you don’t have to worry as much about the annoying set-up and character building. I just want to keep going and pick up the essentials on the fly. Not that the world-building isn’t important, The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones would be significantly less awesome if the time to create the world was skipped. But when it comes to my life and stories, I get bored with the set-up as I look for the next action scene.
Plus, finding out the back stories at the moment they become important makes those stories more interesting.
My love affair with the middle really grew when I realized that my favorite animated shows were anime (it was the 90s, there were lots of obvious answers I learned). If you’re not a fan, I can recommend quite a few of them. I love the major names, like Bleach and One Piece, and I also love Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, Darker than Black, DeathNote and Fairy Tail. If you watch any of these, especially,One Piece, be prepared to start in the middle of the story. (You meet Luffy, the main character in One Piece half-way through the first episode when he breaks out of a barrel. And knowing that will not make the series make any more sense until you watch lots of episodes.)
The confusion of the middle incites various reactions, most of which break down to frustration, acceptance, or apathy. Not knowing the beginning of the story sometimes annoys me. I like to have all the pieces in order when I’m working on a puzzle. And when I begin reading or watching a story, I used to need to have all the pieces. I couldn’t watch a tv series out of order because I was afraid of missing something important. But when I started watching anime, I realized that the conventions there are different in a way that’s more realistic (which seems ridiculous when you’re talking about talking animals or people who have rubber bodies or work with the dead).
Because in life, we meet people in the middle of their stories. Unless you know them from their birth, but that’s so rare for most of the people you interact with on a daily basis. So each meeting is a beginning but also a middle. And sometimes simultaneously an end. And the fun part of meeting someone new is being confused about why they act the way they do and learning how they became who they are.
I know the convention is that life is a series of beginnings, but I think it’s really just a whole heap of middles intersecting and creating new middles. So, while I’m confused and unsure of how this middle will work itself out, I’m kind of excited. Because I’m terrible with beginnings…