I don’t know if you’re familiar with the idea of Jumping the Shark. It refers to the 1977 fifth season premiere of the TV show Happy Days, an episode in which the ever-cool character of the Fonz, answering a challenge to his bravery, waterski-jumps over a confined shark. Fonzie wears his trademark black leather jacket with a bathing suit. It’s totally silly. Stupid, even.
So the phrase “jump the shark” is now used to describe the moment when any story’s plot or characters or internal logic goes totally off the rails. Sometimes it happens in a desperate play for lagging ratings. Sometimes it’s just someone’s really bad idea. It always marks the beginning of the end.
But I’ve been thinking about the fact that the problem with jumping the shark isn’t that something audacious, extraordinary, or weird happens. The problem is when the narrative attempts to continue as before, even after the rules have been irrevocably changed by the jump. The problem isn’t really in the fact that the entire context just got blown out of the water — the problem is when the characters continue in the same no-longer-viable story, staggering along for another deadly ridiculous season or two…
I believe that it’s possible for our stories to JUMP THE SHARK without things becoming absurd. When we allow our boldness & audacity to be game-changing. When we create space for the entire paradigm to shift instead of scrambling to preserve the status quo. When we expect the context to keep up with our story-lines rather than letting the world hold us to a tired-out narrative… THEN jumping the shark indeed becomes a daredevil feat of brilliance. THEN we become the leaders and light-bringers that we were born to be.
I can’t wait to see you Saturday at 6:00, at Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living (abqcsl.org). Join us for refreshments, community, and cheer at 5:30. With special music by my freakin’ fantastic friends, Patty Stephens & Sid Fendley. XO, Drew