On Origin Stories

As a fan of superheroes, zombies, and entrepreneurs, I’m pretty keen on origin stories.

During one of my failed startup attempts when I was 19, I revelled in the idea of my work space for the summer being a worn-out pleather armchair at my friends’ parents’ house. Just this past summer when I started working at Homestead Coworking, I was super into my ‘desk’ being a piece of plywood slung between wall brackets in the partially-finished space, because, “it’s going to be a great story!” I yelled over the sound of the HVAC system being installed. And I love, love, being able to think about the fact that at this time last year, Naheyawin was just an idea that Hunter and I were loosely describing to friends and family at coffee shops, begging for advice and taking copious notes.

I love these kinds of stories.

At the end of the day, the origin story is powerful because of the contrast between the starting point and the end. And what I think captures my wonder about them is the fact that any given moment could be the start of my own origin story, if I’m lucky enough to achieve something great, and I would have no idea. It kind of imbues every moment (in which I’m not hungry, angry, lonely, or tired — but more on that another time) with a sense of opportunity and optimism.

Like right now for example. Maybe writing this article at Lock Stock on a cloudy Wednesday morning in April is the start of something, or maybe a step on the path I started walking a while ago because of another moment that will become clear as my inflection point some time in the future. Why not?

Anyway, I think this is where my true nature of near-radical optimism shows itself, because despite my own true origin story, which starts with the stories of both sides of my family (Woodland Cree people that survived plagues, wars, and the sustained struggle against different manners of genocide, and Polish Jews that escaped the Holocaust) I believe that things can always go spontaneously right.

Tolkien famously coined the term “eucatastrophe” to describe, “the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensures that the protagonist does not meet some terrible, impending, and very plausible doom.” More than almost anyone I know, this describes perfectly the circumstances of my existence.

That smallpox can spare one woman in northern Alberta. That a blood transfusion in Siberia in the late 1930’s can spare a young boy’s life. That a cattle car in Germany can open for moments, a grandmother creating a diversion long enough for her daughters to escape and hide themselves in a barn. That a teenage boy was able to run home from a Residential School.

So maybe it’s coded into my DNA that things can, and do, go right.