“Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.”
As all good writers do, I was eavesdropping the other day and it has also coincided with my philosophical muse (this time in the form of Buddha;). The conversation happened upon someone’s success and its outward measurement by someone else. This is somewhat of a contorted topic for most of us as we have been taught that success is measurable and is measurable in materials; thus we tend to envy those around us for having more whether it be a bigger house, a better paying job, a family, etc. We see success as tangible and outward, a goal that is constantly sought but not necessarily always found. Perhaps, then, we must venture inward, a journey into ourselves and become the hero/heroine in our struggle for that success-something that I would equate to inner peace.
Writing for me is not just an escape but an outward expression of who I am, who I wish I could be, how I see others, my inner most dreams and fears, etc. I believe this to be true for many writers, but as I lack the evidence, I will not put the label on them. In this outward expression, I have pondered often times what the villains and antagonists in my stories (as well as those I read) represent. In my quest to write a story, I have focused on making the villains realistic, someone you might encounter in everyday life. To that extent, I have taken all the qualities that I despise and even some that I think are okay but others may not like and put them into antagonist form. This seems to breakdown reality into a more simplistic troupe wherein good will triumph over the evil–the ultimate victory.
Amongst those dark, dank and dusty tunnels between the letters you’ll find reality behind the written mask. In that aspect, I truly believe writers and avid readers are better equipped to understand reality and to better seek their own success, or peace. We are less likely to label our own success based on others because we’ve seen through our different adventures, through millions of different characters’ eyes that success…it simply cannot be measured. It will never be a trophy to be held. Whether you stand against an army of rabid orcs or stand alone in the midst of a collapsing world, your success will not be something you can grasp. Instead, you will feel something within, something that stirs inside of you because against all odds you took a stand, you made yourself heard and you know, had you not, you would have lost the game.
Unlike a story, however, reality cannot simply end and perhaps you feel that you’re nothing like that hero/heroine you have read. That is where the discrepancy lies. Once that struggle is over, once that valiant victory is won, it won’t simply be a happy ending. Instead, we must treat our life like it is a series of stories, each with its own ending, each that, when finished, delivers you inner peace because you, the hero/heroine, took the less traveled path and, though treacherous, have seen the world for what it is. You may think you don’t possess the bravery, the perseverance or the knowledge to venture forth and you would be misguided by the most unexpected antagonist of any story: dependence. Never rely on someone or someone else’s opinion or expectations. It will only lead you astray from your own adventure and you will soon find that your success will gradually fall out of your reach. Whatever path you may choose, you won’t need a measuring stick to get where you are going, after all when “you step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”*
*Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R Tolkien