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Maps are especially helpful in unfamiliar territory.  Dumas is credited with penning the following: “How can you tell what road to take unless you know where you are going?”

As a single-digit youngster, I was quite taken by painting and drawing. I scribbled endlessly, attempting to discover for myself perspective, shape, volume, texture, and so forth. It wasn’t good.

My parents purchased an oil painting picture of an adorable beagle puppy. It was paint by number. My father thought it would help me appreciate the nuances of color in shape and volume. I enthusiastically immersed myself in following the numbers and painted my beagle during one week’s concentrated work.

It was gratifying on one level, disturbing on another.

Basically, the finished product looked like a dog! A beagle, in fact, and I was delighted. It looked best from about twenty feet away, however. That bothered me. Studying my opus over the next several weeks, I became disenchanted with the outcome. Regrettably, I had no vocabulary or understanding for the disenchantment. It was vague and restless, like an emerging headache.

My first forays into writing came later in life. Feeling some inadequacy of technique or understanding, I began reading and researching on line. My first writing projects were screenplays. Before long I found myself buying software and books from all manner of screenwriting gurus. Everyone had the definitive template for constructing stories that sell. Actually, it made for very good reading and I discovered many wonderful ideas and thoughts around which I lovingly wrapped my arms.

Nothing seemed to hug back!

No script ever felt alive, honest, or authentic. Remarkably, I flashed back to my beagle. Sure enough, when I spread the script out on the table and stepped about twenty feet back, it looked like a film script! Formatted impeccably! It looked real. It just didn’t feel or read real.

This has led me to the conclusion that story trumps all templates and Aristotle probably was most accurate in his assessment of story: it has a beginning, a middle and end. I have since added the corollary that all stories are problem-solving quests, searching for answers that may not be knowable. It is a collision of opposites that seek some kind of resolution. It is in that resolution that happily we may find a glimpse of what life might be.

We are most powerful when we are in a state of inner peace and capable of tapping our talent – an inner need.

There is no template for this quest, simply the understanding that our journey is a quest for answers. The journey will lead us to an authentic story, no templates needed, other than the basic understanding of a beginning, a middle and end. Templates are too much information. They are descriptive, not prescriptive.

I can get to Atlanta from here without a map since I know basically that Atlanta is south of here. Keep the rising sun on my left and I’ll get there. The journey I discover is the story, not Atlanta.

Tap your inner talent by finding an inner peace. Then ask a question and pursue.