Oh, by the way, Gwendoline Christie as Hannah.

As described in A Coward’s Guide to Living, Jacob Will’s love interest Hannah Bishop is described as “intimidating…tall, striking, very fit, almost muscular…and extremely attractive in a Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) sort of way.” So who better to assume the role than the actual Brienne herself, but Gwendoline Christie.

She’ll need no sword in this role, her strengths will always carry the day.

There are many other roles to fill, but I’ll wait until the director(s) call and ask for my thoughts. Wait, is that my phone ringing?

“I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life’s work, and try to get hold of a giant panda.”

If A Coward’s Guide to Living’s protagonist Jacob Will was much of a reader, he might have come across this quote from Anne Lamott. And if he did, he might have recognized its significance as he drove across the country with a giant, chromium yellow panda bear as his silent companion. But as fate would have it, he’d learn it the hard way.

What is love?

In 1993, the Trinidadian-German Eurodance artist Haddaway released the club song What is Love? And what does that have to do with Jacob Will? A lot it seems. To him, love eventually led to hurt and he was afraid of that. That was just one of his issues.

On his quest to commit eleven little deaths, he saw first hand what love really looked like – and it wasn’t at all what he knew. But he did know it was genuine and right.

Charged

Eduardo Garcia, the real-life “star” of the movie Charged, faced unbelievable odds and obstacles in his fight to survive. With help from a friend who stood by him the entire journey, he overcame them, but at such a cost. He came though it, physically diminished, but perhaps more alive than ever.

What does this have to do with A Coward’s Guide to Living‘s Jacob Will? A lot.

A bend in the road… and not for the first time.

It was near the end of the year and Jacob Will thought he knew where he was going until he didn’t. Like all plans upon the impact of the unexpected, they’re destined to change without notice. No map, GPS, or even the best of intentions will ensure an unfettered arrival. There will be turns or detours that might reveal something of value. And then again, maybe not.

But it definitely won’t be boring.

Wherever you go, there you are.

“Wherever you go, there you are” is attributed to Confucius and made popular by the character Buckaroo Banzai in the 1984 eponymously-named movie “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.” And it, as aptly as anything else, describes the protagonist in A Coward’s Guide to Living.

Try as he may, Jacob Will has yet to realize that wherever he goes, the baggage he holds internally will always be with him, wherever he goes. I believe it’s also true of most of us, no matter how much therapy. Wherever you go. He has to discard those bags (issues, prejudices, and perceptions) before he can be somewhere else, where he can discover his own truths.

What’s holding him back? The list is long, eleven little deaths long and there’s no roadmap to help him.

The only good Cadillac is a dead Cadillac?

Outside of Amarillo, Texas, on Route 66, are ten wildly painted Cadillacs, buried nose down in the ground. That was exactly one less than the eleven little deaths Jacob Will had to commit. Would there be one more planted in the soil if he was successful?

He would have been hard-pressed to figure out what they meant to him in a cosmic sense. But like some automotive Stonehenge, he was drawn to them. Created by modern-day Druids, the Ant Farm, back in the ’70’s, the installation has lasted longer than the cars’ useful life. How does that comport with Jacob’s quest?

Two out of two fortune tellers say…

Amidst his travels in attempting eleven little deaths of his own (really himself), Jacob Will visited a fortune teller. Not because he thought he’d find any answers, but strictly for entertainment. He was not entertained.

Nor was he when he tried his luck with the machine version. There was an unanimity of opinions. But would he heed their advice?

Not a hero – not by any standard measurement.

A hero was not how Jacob Will would ever describe himself. Growing up, he didn’t have the heroes young boys normally had. Since sports were not a thing he was interested in, it didn’t matter what records were set by athletes, they held no attraction. Likewise movie stars, though he did, as most boys at a certain age, fantasize about the unattainable females he saw on the screen.

Though, embarking on his journey of middle-aged, self-discovery, he was in one way a hero – though not in the mythic realm. But more in the sense of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, that of an adventure: enduring, maybe prevailing, but coming back changed – transformed.

Unlike Homer’s Odyssey, there were no Sirens nor Scylla and Charybdis to contend with. But he would have to experience life, his own rocks and hard places, as he hadn’t yet. Would he survive? Only his Eleven Little Deaths will determine that.