Characters. There are heroes and heroines, villains and henchmen, sidekicks and the background people that populate stories. If asked, I suspect most of us can name a few that we love or hate, or possibly both. Whether figures in a book, on stage, or screen, why do some of them reach out and grab us, entrance us? Do you wish you lived the life they portray? Do you wish you were indeed the character? Or perhaps is it more that you see bits of yourself represented in that character?
For me, it is the third option. I don’t want to be the genius bone doctor or the sexy vampire hunter. I’m perfectly happy being me. What hooks me in are the glimpses of myself portrayed in characters. I see theses characters slay villains and defy fate. They buck the odds. I can look at them and gain inspiration. I can commiserate when they are being harassed and rejoice when they live happily ever after. Life, of course, does not come with happy-ever-afters. That’s okay. I don’t expect it to. I can however view a character’s trials and affirm to myself that I’m not the only one facing hardship or challenges. If a fictional character can find the gumption to succeed, then by God, so can I!
I think characters, actors, sports figures, all those people both real and fictional which we hold in regard, they speak to our secret desires and fears. We want in some small way to be like them. I do not view that as a bad thing, so long as one realizes that being yourself and being true to that is the most important thing. So who incites that thrill inside you when you turn a page of their adventure or gaze in rapt attention at a movie or show? Is it one particular character, or many? Do you know why? I believe that seeing yourself mirrored in a character allows us to learn and sometimes take a candid look at aspects of ourselves we might not otherwise acknowledge. It’s not an easy or comfortable thing to look in the mirror of our soul and seek understanding. Characters allow us to do this in a detached and incremental fashion. Maybe for some the lesson fades after the book closes or the T.V. turns off, but it need not. So here’s to the character that makes you think even after his or her story ends!