Skip to main content

Story People

I'm one of those either/or, black-and-white, all-or-nothing people. I'm not saying this is always a bad thing, but at this time in my life it's not the best way to find emotional, spiritual, and mental balance. Dismantling the faultily built areas of my internal structure requires a steady mind, not one given to extremes.

So, it helps me to think about life, and myself, in terms of stories. When you're thinking about stories, you can't deal in extremes. For example, the Calvinist/Arminian debate goes out the window, because who can really sit around quibbling about fate versus free will when both are so clearly in evidence?

This weekend I started musing over one way to categorize the various personalities involved in a story. Here are the categories, and how they bring clarity to various personal conundrums:

Me (a.k.a. protagonist). While it's true that God is telling one big story about the history of the universe - the super-story, if you will - it's not true that each of us is only a little piece in this big story. Each of our lives is a story with intrinsic meaning.

We are not the story tellers, but luckily, as any author will tell you, characters do take on lives of their own. In other words, although I'm not the one creating the story, I have a say in how it goes. I have free agency. I may not be able to choose all the circumstances of my life, but I can decide what to do with them. I can decide, for example, to walk to Europe. Of course, I will have to turn around once I'm in over my head in the Atlantic, but at least I drove all the way to the beach. I got somewhere.

God (a.k.a. the author). This is the guy who actually sets up the story. He decides, for example, what the setting looks like and who the people in it are, and He calls some of the shots. A good author kinda lets things go at that point, sees where the characters end up next. However, I've never read a truly good story where there wasn't some kind of miracle at the end, just where you thought things couldn't turn out right. I'd like to believe God steps into my life, too.

One thing characters can't do, because they're imaginary, is interact with their authors. So I have to be careful about identifying too much with this author/character analogy. I may be a character in a story, but I'm not a powerless, voiceless victim of the author's pen. I can talk to Him about the story, get His perspective on it, tell Him my perspective.

Other people (a.k.a. supporting characters). The most important thing, here, is not to get the other characters mixed up with the author. None of the other characters can rescue me in the ultimate sense. None of them is perfect, so none of my relationships with them will be perfect. Also, although each person is the protagonist of his own story, none of them is the protagonist of my story. My story is uniquely about me. I can't depend on or allow other people to define my story or make it happen.

But if I realize that the perfect, powerful Creator is a distinct person from the imperfect, yet important and valuable, creatures, then I can interact with each of them as appropriate and not demand the wrong things from the wrong people.


Popular posts from this blog

How to Waste Time When You Could Be Watching a Zombie Movie

Today I read one of those horrible articles that the internet seems to have been designed for, consisting of 40 tips for becoming as successful as the author: "How to Live a Full Life (and Leave Nothing on the Table) by 30." Yes, that's really the title. Normally I wouldn't publish a blog post in response, but because I managed to Come Down with a Chronic Illness (and Achieve Basically Nothing Else) by 30 and Am Currently Feeling the Aftereffects of One of the Treatments I Periodically Take, Which Causes Me to Feel High and Lose My Inhibitions, I'm just going to go for it. (Author's point #33: "Seriously, You Can Do Whatever You Want." Why thank you, young man, I think I will!)

The author's name is Ryan Holiday, and he has published several books. It sounds like he is also very wealthy, because note point #15, "Sooner Is Not Better," where he says he had a weird goal of becoming a millionaire by 25, but it didn't happen until after

Me Eve, You Adam

Recently a male friend read Paradise Lost, as part of a book group that was predominately women. How I would have loved to be a fly on that wall.

I told him what I always say to people reading Milton for the first time: He was an incredible poet, but a horrible man who portrayed the mother of all humanity as a bimbo, perpetuating an offensive stereotype as some sort of religious reality. Oh, don't get me started on this guy. I become incoherent talking about him.

After the book club meeting, my friend texted me: You were right about Milton's Eve!

I laughed for a long time at that. Then I got to thinking. What if Eve had been created first, Adam had sinned first, and Milton had been a woman?
Reverse Paradise Lost Note: Since I could not hope to parody Milton's splendid poetry, I have written this in play form. Please imagine that what follows is an excerpt of an entire work. Book II. Eve: I have completed my monumental task of naming all the animals, and I have greatly enjoy…

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Ever since I was six or so, I have battled alarm clocks. They've jolted me awake. I've turned them off. I've hit snooze. I've gone back to sleep. I've tried to awaken myself gently with the classical music station or Aaron Copland CDs. No matter what, I can't get out of bed when the alarm says I should.

When I was a child, my father and I would race after the school bus. As an adult, I was chronically late for work. I'm not a morning person. I don't sleep well and rarely feel rested. Lymies don't feel well in the mornings anyway, and it didn't help that I'm easily startled and was being shocked awake each day with the equivalent of those paddles they use on heart attack victims. All morning I'd feel groggy and queasy and antsy, with adrenaline pumping through me.

A couple years ago I got sick and had to stay home from work for a few days. When I was ready to get back to the office, I took it easy for a few alarm-clock-free mornings while…