Fiction fascinates me most when characters face impossible odds and sometimes overcome them. Heroes vanquishing villains, people confronting their demons, or even overcoming common problems. The more we relate and invest in these characters, the harder it is to see them battered around. I’ve cared about John and Trishna [center] for over 15 years now. How far will I break them when I write “The Story?” Will I need to break myself in the process?
Spoiler Warning Scale: Minor (brainstorming about conflict)
Digging deeper, how far do I need to break before I can write “The Story?” I have never experienced puppy love, romantic love, or sexual love, yet this narrative of two destined partners propels me through my reality, with the agony of declining a mediocre yet comfortable life, and the loathing of working toward a nearly unattainable goal.
I found myself drifting toward easy money recently.
That’s the comfort that will lead to a hard life. Without working toward your ambitions, you may find yourself in a decent spot, unfulfilled, sad, and going through the motions. Most of the people I’ve met throughout my career fell into this trap. It terrifies me more than facing any monster. I’ve recently forgotten that fear and let it overwhelm me into numb depression.
Will I break them down in that way?
Offer them no solace in life? They may have a mutual affection for one another, but will they be dragged under by invisible forces? Will they find themselves lashing out at society, the world, and each other as they tackle the hopelessness of their fictional world? Will it or other factors tear them apart or will they stay together? Will they find happiness or tolerance?
“The Story” is my life’s journey.
As much as I dislike stating this, John and Trishna are so ingrained in my psyche that they are two little pieces of my greater whole. John is a rebel that fights as much as he can and Trishna does that and rebels against expectation and limitation. They both do. I see them as the rag tag team I want for myself. I’m getting better at writing, so that is the legitimate reason.
The true reason is much deeper.
Like me, they are scrappy kids looking to get by, and all they want is to attain comfort that feels authentic. None of this waiting to hear good news, knowing that the everything will crumble in time, and it’s only months or years before returning to this same hole. I have different pits of despair than them. They don’t have an insatiable desire to keep people at an inauthentic distance.
They only have trivialities.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on myself. Maybe it’s my way of thinking that if I suffer, then it makes for better art? Maybe I won’t admit that I’ve found myself trapped in work and life that won’t fulfill me. The poisonous ennui of having gone so far, yet having so little to show for it. Is that something John and Trishna will need to face? This is not just my ramblings combating something.
It’s the theme I’ve seen throughout life.
I’ve met people in healthy, romantic relationships. Mostly, however, there are people unhappy with their lives. A married man told me of his desires to have an affair with a neighbor and customer we both worked with several times. The rocky marriages, divorces, breakups, and everything I’ve seen seem to far outweigh temporary happiness.
It’s not like I only look on the gloom.
I try to remain positive but it’s full of strife. For every step forward, the iceberg shifts sideways, or I slip into the murky waters below. For every instance of climbing back up, another setback, while I become envious if the successes of others, so I shut that out of mind, just focusing on what’s in front of me. It’s really not all that bad, too, all things considered. I could be in drastically dire circumstances.
Yet it feels overwhelming.
To get outside my head and really embody the gratitude of what I have takes effort, because it turns out most are distractions toward where I want to go. Shed the unessentials. Sell the mediocre. Destroy the terrible. Exercise to exorcise. These are all great platitudes that fail to quench the inner drive away from this benign pain of a comfortable reality.
There’s nothing, and everything, to fight.
To go with the flow would mean settling down with acceptable enough factors. Maybe this is frictive, maybe that is annoying, but the overall is good enough. Is that worth giving up the fight for what could ameliorate me toward a place where I won’t feel like I must compromise in any of my ideals in order to get what I want in life? Wouldn’t that eventually become settling?
That’s one of the deep problems I face.
I’m not John or Trishna, figuring out their way through college, though maybe I am in the sense that we – and you – are trying to figure out our paths in life. We all have our battles. Maybe through figuring out how to overcome my own conflicts, I can then feel qualified to write about these two characters I’ve nurtured since high school? Or maybe they will be just as unattainable?
I know one thing for certain.
I don’t currently have the heart to write them a bad ending. I can imagine their strife and destaining conflict, yet I want them thrive and attaining idyllic is how I’d like them to end up. Wouldn’t we all like to reach the end of our stories in a wonderful relationship, living at peace with ourselves, and accepting the brutal world as more beautiful than betraying? To get the best ending?
Will we get our happy endings?
I hope so. Even if it’s cliché, I think it’s what we all want, in our own ways.
Facing impossible odds and overcoming them.
Photo: Arranging recently acquired antagonistic action figures into a shot. Characters listed in the tags.