Tension in the narrative makes for a great movie or novel, but what about in your life? Tension in life is something to get rid of, to fix, to neutralize, right? It comes in all shapes, sizes, flavors, personas and seems to be around every corner. And, to bring balance to life can feel like trudging slowly over wet sand (lyrical reference to Morrissey).
In the stories and movies, we have the entire cast of characters that weave, orchestra and embellish what’s happening. The cast includes the protagonist – hero, heroine, leading lady, leading man; the antagonist – the villain, the nemesis, the troublemaker; and then there are all the other characters that add colors and flavors. Oh, and I forgot to mention the love interest, the BFF and the sidekick. Any of the characters can turn our world upside down, like looking at the sky through a pond, and we scramble to find the way up. Have you identified these characters in your own, personal, everyday story… LIFE?
So, identifying a few characters and maybe their roles in your stories is one thing, but who’s directing your story and what kind of story is it? For the longest time, I viewed my story as the dark comedy full of one antagonist after another, rarely seeing the love interest and if I did…he was just another antagonist darkening my doorstep with another challenge. My particular flavor of antagonist shows up, push my buttons, turns my world upside down and “made me” lose my S#@t! And then, departs after playing reindeer games. This was the story I told myself for many years. In truth, NO ONE can make you do, feel or be anything. That is pure victim mentality, I was living it. We have all spoken it, lived it and may be in it right now, so just own it! I gave these antagonist titles in my life. I gave them power. And, I suffered. It’s like I was in a silent movie and I gave permission for the antagonist to break into my story and paint me whatever color they wanted. I let them decide my role in my own life. They were the director and my story became more of a tragedy than comedy, even with the dark humor.
According to Laraine Herring, in writing, the flat, undeveloped characters, stories or poems occur because there isn’t an organic relationship between the lines themselves and what’s inside. If we live our stories with no connection to our inner world, we live flat lives with these characters that interact with us and maybe (most likely) control us, like puppets on a string. The reality is that we live our outer life, with all its characters, struggles, challenges, glories and romances as a direct reflection of our inner landscape. Our cast of characters are simply archetypal patterns of ourselves. Usually, the parts that we don’t want to own. So, all these F#%king antagonists are just mirroring for me my challenges. I can experience them like sandpaper peeling away my skin, unnerving me like nails on a chalkboard…OR, I can appreciate them as the pressure and added carbon that turns coal in to diamonds. While the perspective is not the same, in the end, result is growth.
The poet and mystic Hafiz said, “Take a pitcher full of water and set it down in the water – now it has water inside and water outside. We mustn’t give it a name, lest silly people will start talking about the body and the soul.” I am one of these silly people and make no apology for being one. Life is meant to be lived, fully…embodied! To embody life means to share what is on the inside with all its shines and shadows, all the ups and downs, with the outside world. My story has an amazing protagonist. She is a force and has a gentle spirit that few get to see. She has been a supporting role in her so-called life for too many years. She has returned home from battle, ready to share the richness life gave her in lessons and learning. Her heart now expresses gratitude for the “sandpaper” of her story that has brought color to her silent movie. She has stopped trudging slowly over wet sand and now strolls with a curious and open heart.
Here is the paradox of living an embodied life, just as I have antagonists that rub me the “wrong way”, I am an antagonist in someone else’s story. We are ALL the characters in the story. All the archetypes live in us. Maybe, this is what makes the Golden Rule is so golden, and lives in every culture? This can take us deeper into the rabbit hole. Maybe it’s best to save that for another day…
For now, ask yourself these questions…What is the theme of my story? Who are the cast of characters? What role am I playing in it? Am I willing to hold the mirror up and see what is really inside? Am I willing to be the protagonist of my own life? Until next time, shine on you crazy diamond and chose to stroll instead of trudging.
Blessing and Peace,
Blue Jean Oracle