Some days life is a mystery. A Rubik cube of experiences. A series of sounds, colors, sights, peanut butter sandwiches, and moments of grandeur and desperation. A conundrum, mixed with a dash of euphoria, wrapped in a warm layer of “I should’ve seen that one coming.” Then I eat some delicious dark chocolate truffles, and all is well.
Donald Miller says that life is like a story. The things that make a story worth reading/watching is also what drives a good life. And far be it from me to argue with Don. He wrote a movie about Jazz and a book about Dragons, so by American standards he’s the type of person you listen to. I mean, maybe not Kardashian level of expertise yet, but I’m sure once people figure out he can whisper to Dragons he might get his own reality TV show.
“A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it” (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years). I hate this statement…because it’s true. As a character in my own storyline, I tend to fluctuate roles. And I suppose that is fairly normal and even healthy sometimes. Static characters are about as exciting as eating Cream of Wheat for breakfast every morning. Every character needs a little Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms thrown into the mix.
Some moments I’m the knight on a shining white horse…who never makes it out of the stable, because he realizes he doesn’t even own a horse. So if I’m riding a horse that probably means it’s stolen. Then I’d spend most of the narrative arc in a dungeon somewhere. I’m assuming the kind of mice that inhabit dungeons don’t tend to sing and make nifty outfits for their new roomies. And driving boldly towards a beautiful girl in a car doesn’t tend to have the same effect as a sturdy steed. One is supposed to set the heart aflutter and is a catalyst to romance, while the other tends to simply awaken one’s fight or flight reflexes. A visit from the boys in blue is also well within the realm of possibility. See previous statement about prison and its decided lack of musical entertainment.
There are days where I’m the comic relief. Now, every great tale needs someone along to keep things from getting too serious – think Chris Tucker or Vince Vaughn in every movie they’ve ever been in. At the same time the comic relief is also the one who tends to get shot at the most in movies, many times deservedly so. And, sure, they tend to not get hit, but every now and then they do tend to get shot in the butt. Comical? Yes. Worth it? TBD.
And then there’s the villain. We all want to believe that we’re the good guy in our own stories. The Damsels in Distress will swoon when I come to rescue them from air pollution, bad hair days, or whatever the equivalent to villainous acts are in the “real world,” right? Yet, if I were truly honest with myself – which I don’t recommend doing on too frequent a basis; we can’t do all of our therapists work for them – I would have to admit to some villainy in my blood. Not in the “I’m gonna take over the world” or “steal all your puppies” kind of way. (On a side note, I wonder how much we would have hated Cruella as a character if she only stole the puppies to cuddle with them. I think we’d feel much more conflicted about her as a character. Just saying.) No, more in the way that I tend to get in the way of the storyline fulfilling its truest level of happiness and resolution. Within us all lies the power to block happy endings.
A friend asked me the other day if I was living the story I want to. Having read many philosophical-type books on what it meant to live a good life, been a teacher instructing the next generation on how to live a good life/change the world, and had an almost healthy obsession with reality TV shows like the Bachelor – where people simultaneously pursue happiness and the perfect make-out technique – this was an easy one to answer. A softball lobbed over the plate. Or at least it should have been. (If you’ve seen me play softball, you would understand why. I was frequently stuck in Right Field. Nuf said.) Yet, I couldn’t give a confident “yes” response.
This got me thinking, which worried me even more. It didn’t send me into a deep spiral or anything – there wasn’t even any Ben & Jerry’s involved. Rather, it set me to writing. (You see I can’t actually afford that therapist I told you about earlier. So I’m going to spill my guts to the magical interweb as my therapy. Either that or Al Gore gets so fed up with me abusing his interweb that he pays for my therapy sessions. I’d say it’s a coin-flip.) You see, come to find out I really do believe that life is filled with characters who want things and overcome conflict to get them.
They say – and I always listen to people whose first name start with “th,” like Theodore Roosevelt – that understanding you have a problem is the first step to recovery. So this is my first step. My moment of awakening. An inciting incident? Only time will tell. I want to live a better story. I can live a better story. The pen is in my hand.
I’m off to decide what kind of character I want to be…wish me luck.