Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our own hero

"Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story." --John Barth

I love this quote. I love it. I love it. I love it.  I read it a couple years ago, and I always come back to it, over and over.  A thought that tumbles in the back of my mind constantly.

Life is conflict. It just is.  Unless we choose to be hermits, we spend our lives in contact with other people.  Other very flawed people, of which I include ourselves as well.  There will be conflict! There will be drama.  Oh, I hear you, you insisters that you do not do drama and I laugh.  Goodnaturedly. I have been known to make the same claim.  Yet, I think I would almost argue that the people who declare this the loudest are the same people who are constantly in the midst of it.  Conflict is a part of our lives... and we don't conflict with the natural world so much.  I've never cried over a box of laundry soap (although it is entirely possible that I have cried over a laundry soap COMMERCIAL). We conflict with people.  Crazy, messed-up, selfish people.  And I can say that because I, too, am one of them.

When in that conflict, it is so easy to begin to see yourself as the victim.  YOU are the one being hurt.  YOU are the one being persecuted.  They are wrong and you are right... because, you see, YOU are the hero. This is your story and you are the protagonist... which makes anyone who is against you the antagonist.  But flip that around a moment, please.  For while they are the antagonist to your story, so too are you the antagonist to theirs.  They have their own story to write... and in theirs, you are the enemy and they are the hero.  They have their own struggles, their own hurts, their own goals, their own dreams.

There is something about this idea that I like...  I don't know if I find it comforting or just... that it helps me to make a little bit of sense out of the world.  In the grand scheme of things, I find there are really not that many bad people.  But, the world IS full of people writing their own stories... maybe writing them badly, maybe giving their hero terrible decisions... but all trying to make it to the epilogue in one piece.  I think I find this makes it easier for me to have compassion.


  1. You word it AMAZINGLY but yes, I try to do this. I try to see things from their points of view. Too often what comes up is, "So what." Not right, I know. I recently got in a conversation with Ron about apologizing when you don't do anything wrong but rather to make peace. I am currently against such a thing, though I know in the past I used to do it too much. I'm finding the balance, or at least I hope I will.

  2. Oh my darling friend, I love you. I think you're better at seeing the other side than you give yourself credit for. Balance is a good thing. It's like what Cathie Jo used to say about different manifestations of the same quality. There are negatives at both ends of the spectrum, but healthy is found somewhere in the middle. The same probably applies here.

    :) I'm glad to see you today...


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