I took a risk
And I didn’t like it but it made me think
Woo we’re here again and you know what that means – everyone reads what I’m thinking! Everyone likes things so far riiiight? Look, we enjoy having light-hearted fun here but we do want to actually say something with a bit of depth every now and again. Communicating some of the ideals we hold is one of our goals because people like you might learn from us – be it from our wins or losses. Okay that’s enough preamble, could you tell that I have a non-vlog, non-food review post lined up here?
My post this week is about risks. Everyone knows what it means to take a risk is but we should define it for the sake of completeness. To take a risk is to pursue an outcome you cannot guarantee. Oftentimes there is a preferred scenario, but like I said, you don’t know whether that’s the one you’ll end up with. There are risks where the chance of you getting your preferred outcome is so small that, logically speaking, no one would take that risk. Having said all that, why then do we all still take risks when they’re not comfortably deterministic?
Excitement is what it is! Be truthful and you’ll know you love when you win, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Light can further be shed if we think about casinos, where risk and reward are coupled in the most straightforward way ever. Of course we all know how things work at the casino: the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Greater rewards can be cash, cars or trips overseas or whatever. I’m thinking the real greater reward is the euphoria from coming out on top when the chances of victory are so slim. Being the winner is innately more important to us than the actual winnings.
Really, this is the motivation behind every underdog movie ever made as well. Ocean’s 11. Kung Fu Panda. Even Edward Scissorhands. Many more movies than you’d guess can be classified as underdog movies, by the way. You get what I’m saying though, right? The feeling that casinos and underdog movies both appeal to are that winning feeling. How you feel when you win with great difficulty differs to how you feel when you win something trivial. Imagine how differently we would have felt if Goku’s fight with Frieza lasted five episodes instead of the eighteen it actually took.
Realising this link between risk and reward is still only part of the puzzle though. Does anything else come to mind when you think of winning at a casino or watching your underdog team win despite great adversity? Maybe a certain feeling called relief. Emotional release is what it is. That catharsis, more often than not, signifies the end of a journey and that feeling is refreshing as hell. Ah no I’m not making that up, it’s legitimate because I googled it. Catharsis is “purification and purgation of emotions”, especially pity and fear. All this means is when you experience catharsis, you no longer feel the fear and anxiety you felt during the journey. Right when you win the grand prize in the casino, you don’t feel the stress or fear of not succeeding anymore. Precisely when your underdog team wins, you discard your nerves and feel relief that it’s finally over. All that is catharsis.
Lo and behold, maybe catharsis is what we’re being sold at casinos, movie theatres and bookstores. Aren’t we all haters of a movie which doesn’t tie up loose ends or ends abruptly? We’re looking for a way to release the emotions which were built up by the movie, that’s why. Eventually this post got to where it was meant to get to in the end. Every story needs to take the audience on a journey and invoke emotion in them. Knowing that, as a storyteller, you’re responsible for allowing your audience to release those emotions at the end of the story. All the while, your audience must stay unaware of how you’re influencing them. Great storytellers can make their audiences feel all sorts of things, it’s basically brainwashing, but I digress.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a journey did we go on in this post?
Asking that makes me the story teller and you the audience.
Now think of everything we touched on. Do you take risks where you aren’t sure whether you’ll come out on top? The feeling when you do succeed is great, isn’t it? Hehe, it’s because you’ve won despite the odds. In the same way the Mighty Ducks win, with their backs against the wall, facing superior opposition. Somehow it feels great when they beat teams better than they are. In the feeling of success, there is the feeling of relief. Some Greek guy called Aristotle coined that as catharsis. When you feel catharsis, you are cleansed of the emotion you had built up over the duration of the journey. However long the journey, it’s most important to let your audience experience catharsis. As a storyteller, one of the most important things you can do is tie up loose ends neatly. That’s something good storytellers do well. It’s something great storytellers do innately.
Lend me your ears (or eyes), my friends. Explaining this train of thought, from risk to storytelling, is kind of weird. An incident occurred which made me ask why it happened. Risk was a key part in it, I took one and it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. Now you could say I didn’t get to experience any catharsis. There I was, disappointed but contemplative. Figuring all of the above out, I’m sharing what I’ve learnt with you now while taking you on a journey. Reading this was fun, I hope. Oh yeah, it was fun to write as well! Might have been tough as well since it felt like an essay and I haven’t written one of those in ages.
If you want to know what incident occurred to kick off this train of thought, gathering the first letter of every sentence in this post will reveal all.