Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Be The Protagonist

I have said many times that we tell the stories about our own lives that make it bearable, or better yet magical, mystical.  I often use the death of my father as an example.  I was eight years old when he passed away.  Instead of embracing his premature demise as the greatest tragedy of my life, I credit this misfortune with my decision to pursue a career in medicine, and hopefully touch countless lives.  Reframing of my childhood has allowed me to feel like I grew up privileged.  Even lucky.

It has occurred to me recently that such story telling does not only have to be reserved for interpreting the past.  In fact, it is the present, and even the future that could also use a certain recalibration of lens.

I think that we, as human beings, struggle with happiness from day to day.  We bounce from stress to joy to tragedy.  We slog through our jobs, relationships, and financial issues and think little about how  our own thoughts lead to even greater distress.

I have decided to try to take a different path, and become the protagonist.

When facing the hardships of life, I am going to reframe my vantage point.  Like any good book or movie, most conflict can be distilled down (or blown up) into a battle between good and evil, right and wrong.

When you envision yourself the protagonist of this epic battle, you automatically view yourself in a different light.  For instance, the protagonist, from the outset, is innately good and virtuous.  It is the nature of the role even before any action takes place.

Furthermore, when you take on this persona, you hold yourself and your actions to a higher ethical standard.

No matter the outcome, win or lose, there is a certain glory in being the protagonist.  Success, against the odds, is expected.  And failure, even at it's worst, is filled with honor and humility.    

The role of protagonist could embody our best and most virtuous intentions.



Janice said...

Dear Jordan, in light of what's going on with global terror and rampant fear, this essay touched me deeply. The higher vantage point is valuable and empowering. It reminded me of the story Beck Weathers, MD told at a 1997 Wilderness Medicine about Rob Hall (a mountain guide who died on Mt. Everest on that fateful day, May 11, 1996.)

One of Hall's clients (Doug Hansen) became incapacitated in the brewing, massive storm following his successful summit. Dr. Weathers said Rob could have made it off the mountain if he had chosen to descend, but he would not leave Hansen...even though he knew he was sealing his fate as well. When asked why Hall made that decision knowing he would die too, Beck said you needed to know Rob Hall, the man. "Rob made the choice to not let Doug die alone knowing he would most likely die, too, because he would not be able to live with himself every day for the rest of his life if he chose otherwise."

Reading stories and seeing photos of Syrian refugees trying to save their children makes me wonder how it's possible for any of us to ignore them. What does this say about us? How can we live with ourselves? We are dishonoring our values.

"And failure, even at it's worst, is filled with honor and humility."

Anonymous said...

I think the problem comes in in that both sides have valid points. We want to do what is right, but how to do that when you have those who will do evil for your good?