CotM 10 Tips 3 ProtagWe’re All the Protagonist

. . . At least in our own heads.

It’s how we’re wired. Even those of us who know the world does not revolve around us, or care, on a wider scale, are narrating our world in the first person, regardless of how unreliable that narrator may be. Just grasp that simple truth and run with it.

I guess you could think of it as a movie, or a play (All the world’s a stage . . .), or I guess are really big jigsaw puzzle. Either way, it’s a thing that’s coming together, and it is the labor of your life. So you’d better be sure of three things. . .

When It’s Done, You Better Be Proud of What You Made

For some people this might be a bit farther down the list, but I think most people will be most concerned with epilogue. There’s nothing wrong with a long boring story that ends with something along the lines of, “. . . They leave behind their spouse of forty years, three children, and eight (and counting) happy grandchildren, who shared their favorite stories and memories with the crowded room where the services were held.”

There are lots of different sorts of books, puzzles, plays, and so on, for a reason. Neither life nor entertainment are a one-size-fits-all proposition. In fact, the variance is rather extraordinary. Why does this man spend his money and free time creating elaborate train sets and towns, while this woman becomes enamored of birding, or that guy latches onto cooking or carpentry? I don’t know, but I’m glad it happens, because it makes the world a more interesting place.

All these differences mean that we find ourselves being the protagonists in fights of various sorts with antagonists who are the Good Guys in their own story. That should be cause to examine yourself, just to make certain you’re working to . . .

Really Be the Hero

Think of every jerk, villain, evil dictator, and general antagonist in your life. They thought they were the good guy. One of the very few things such different people as, say, Gandhi and Hitler, had in common was this: They were the protagonist in the story they were writing in their heads.

This is incredibly important to remember when dealing with people. Possibly the single most important thing. In their hearts they want to believe they’re protagonists so badly that they have convinced themselves that whatever they’re doing is somehow right or necessary. They need to be the Good Guys. Never forget that. It will help you navigate the complexities of society, win friends and influence people, and, perhaps most importantly, understand the people around you.

Some people are more interesting than others, some are more approachable than others, some are more likable than others, but all of us are trying to act out some sort of outline. Try to figure out what that outline is, try to figure out if it’s a story you’d like to play a role in, try to figure out if you can help them along on their way to fulfilling it–or, just as important, figure out if their a story is one in which you should be an antagonist. There are many, many, tragedies written every day, and sometimes being the good guy means standing against them.

Just. . . try be the hero that little voice in your head is always telling you you’re supposed to be.

Possibly the best part of the movie Stranger Than Fiction, wherein Will Ferrell’s can hear someone else narrating his life (and impending demise) is when he, having been tasked with determining whether he is living in a comedy or tragedy in order to help narrow down the identity of his narrator.

Which brings us neatly to the second bit. . .

Make It Something Worth Reading

Like I said, you might be concerned most about the epilogue–setting up the sequels, so to speak–but epilogues don’t just happen. Happy lives don’t materialize from thin air, nor great accomplishments, nor happy children, not even notable skills.

Every word of your life is one closer to the total, one closer to ‘The End’, so choose them carefully.

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