There were times when my parents would discuss people who went to our church. “She’s a character.”, my dad would occasionally say, shaking his head with a smile. The way that he said it made me want to be a “character”, even though my childhood self did not fully understand what he meant, but got that a “character” was someone who stood out a bit, pushed the limits a bit, and was decent and lovable at the same time.
You may recall, “Don’t read “The Grapes of Wrath’ when you’re feeling low”. Well, I reached a point where I wasn’t feeling low, so I finished reading the classic. Ma was a character who stunned me repeatedly with her strength and practicality. Now, she’s a character, so perhaps it is impossible for a human being to actually be as strong and practical as Steinbeck portrayed her to be but…
Sometimes, when I hear music, I imagine that the music is a soundtrack to the ‘movie’ of my life. It’s a little embarassing, okay? Anyone reading this has probably been touched by the combination of characters, dialogue, scenery, and music that can make an excellent film. My life is not an excellent film, but I have been thinking about being an extraordinary character.
Being fully present and fully feeling every emotion that arises can be a bit much, and can lead a person to freak out. If I have understood his words correctly, Eckhart Tolle asserts that being fully present actually creates a small space between us and our pain. I, enjoylifedarnit, assert that being fully present in difficult moments can lead one to bawl hard, face down, on the floor. I do understand the general concept Tolle is trying to teach (and he might not be a fan of me calling it a concept…sorry…), and I do have an appreciation for it. I’m from L.A. origins, though, so I’m bringing in my Hollywood twist.
When I’m wondering what to do with myself in a ‘new’ [okay, potentially challenging or just outright torturous, or even a positive one- they can present challenges too!] situation, I am going to think about what my favorite characters would do. There are patterns, right? Characters are our favorites for certain reasons, and there are often shared attributes among those we adore. Why not summon thoughts of and inspiration from them when necessary, even though they are imaginary?
It’s another way of creating space between us and pain. Another way to think about ourselves and pain. Perhaps it’s evasive, but if it results in behavior that inspires us to respect ourselves later, some wisdom-based evasion might be seen as beneficial to not only ourselves but others.
When my dad called women (it was always women, never men. there must have been another word for a male who was a ‘character’. leaving it at that-.) characters, he made an impression on me that could be turning in to a coping strategy.
Dear few who will read: Who are a couple of your favorite characters in books, movies, TV, whatever, so far? I’d love to know.
Ma would not shudder in the face of an expensive year and hormonal hijacking (secondary to fertility adventures). She would simply make decisions and fry dough. I may not be her, but thinking about her will not weaken me.
I also love Andy Dufresne. “Hope is a good thing…”