Sometimes it can feel like the universe is always against you. Or that God has those days where he’s a little bit of a sadist. On other days, it just seems like that you’re plain destined to have it bad. And the funny thing is, whenever those days come around, we often don’t stop to think about everything that has gone right in our lives.
But that’s life. We’re constantly being dealt all sorts of cards, some we asked for or worked for and some are just random. Either way, when things are going poorly for us, it’s very easy to spiral thinking our cards dealt are unjust.
Nerd alert. I grew up watching every single animated superhero series. You might think I’m exaggerating, but then you are underestimating the amount of time I had on my hands…and my commitment to superheroes. My comic book collection was at one point so big that it became a concern. But it was more than just a love of justice being served or the bright colors and heroic feats. I found something else there, too. The Power Rangers assisted me in discovering my sexuality.
I used to have to be dragged to church Sunday morning twitching, my mind elsewhere because of course Dragon Ball Z aired Sunday mornings on the WB right before mass. Receive the Eucharist? Oh silly Mother, I need a senzu bean.
I love a good story. If the story isn’t compelling, I’m not interested. If the characters aren’t richly developed, peace out. Give me characters with dimension. Give me the conflicted hero. Give me the villain with an awesome backstory. I want it all. Which brings me to the message of this post. I have always been captivated what makes a hero, well, the hero, and, on the flip side, what makes the villain the irredeemable bad guy that he is. The art of storytelling has ALWAYS touched on this human condition. We’re able to find this dichotomy everywhere.
Take two people and have them both go through terrible experiences. See one character turn out better and see the other become the monster. Why? It’s all in how you process what has happened, how much you feel that the world is against you, that the world itself is “doing this” to you—how much control you feel that you have over your own fate and your own reactions when fate doesn’t always give you rainbows and unicorns. Have you witnessed this? Have you seen amazing people become awful? Jaded? Bitter? Then there’s the flip side. Terrible people who have “seen the light” so to speak.
Hear that siren? Louder…nerd alert!
J.J.R Tolkein, the author of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy did a fantastic job at giving an answer to this question: Gollum. Once a Hobbit, Gollum is this disgusting, pitiful, and demented character bent on getting the One Ring and obtaining all power. That’s the part everyone knows, but Hhre’s the important part: he once had the ring. He then lost it. He was once a cute and cuddly Hobbit who became the monster. With the loss of the Ring, he also lost everything good he had in him and became hellbent on getting it back, sacrificing EVERYTHING in the process. A good guy gone bad.
]We have a choice, though. When fate intervenes and delicately laid plans go awry, trauma befalls us or even just a dozen or so tiny annoyances start to build up and build up, it is completely within our power to choose the way we react. Do we rage at the world because of the injustice of it all, or do we sit down and figure out how we’re going to get through this? The choice is not always an easy one to make.
The only answer that I can come up with as to why being the good guy, choosing the path that may actually seem more difficult at the outset, is the way to go, is that at the end of that road is happiness. It’s not that complicated. Stephen King has said it perfectly and ever so cryptically, “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” To be CONSUMED by our demons, well, we lose. We become miserable. We become Gollum.
Deep down inside, you always know what the right thing is. Listen to it. You’ll be better off for doing so. Most importantly, you’ll be happy.