by cheri block
We all have a life story. It has a plot and subplots, many settings, and a host of characters. Most of us like to focus on our life theme. We might remember ourselves in this way:
My life has been about service to others. I am very unselfish and devoted to my family. When I am gone, people will remember me for my interest in other people. Etc.
But the truth of our life story is that people will remember us not for the big themes but for the details. That cup of coffee you brought up to my bedroom this morning. That note you left. That look on your face.
We all have a protagonist in our life story and as with all narratives, an antagonist.
Who is your protagonist? This character moves your forward in meaningful ways. In your short 80-year-or-so lifespan, this part of who you are is present when your nerves are calm, your heart is pure, and your mind is clear. This part of you is your very own hero or heroine, that character that rises above the mundane and profane. Unfortunately, the protagonist in you is often caught by the ankle, tripped, and muddied. And you did it to yourself.
A Buddhist quotation asks that we not bend to the power of our antagonist.
Who is your antagonist? This character is often the more interesting part of who you are. He or she is present when your nerves are frayed, your heart is spoiled, and your mind is self-consumed. This part of you is your very own villain, that character that refuses the kind and pure and is motivated by self-interest, greed, and vanity.
We are often Connie instead of Rose of Sharon, Kino instead of Juana, Willie instead of Mama.
Best selling books capitalize on antagonists because what they do appeals to that dark side of us all. Who wants to read a book about people with clear hearts and kind souls?
As I grow older, I am more attracted to the protagonists in each of my friends and family members.
The only antagonists I want to know are in fiction.
I can deal with Tom Buchanan but I certainly would not want to live with him.