If you were the protagonist of a book, what would your primary character flaw be? Harry Potter was Brave (as any Gryffindor should be), but prone to foolhardy. Jon Snow is committed to his values, but he’s naive (He knows nothing). Katniss is determined but dispassionate. Holmes is a genius but lacks social grace.
Do you notice the pattern I do? it seems like for every seemingly positive character trait is accompanied by a complementary flaw. In good writing, we’re drawn to characters we can empathize with – people who have do deal daily with their own nature to use their character traits for good. The reason Harry Potter has engrossed millions of fans is that Harry is like the child in many of us – learning to balance childlike arrogance and foolhardy with mature confidence and patience.
I think if I were to be the protagonist of a book, the author would highlight my drive for novelty. I’ve spoken about this before, but I feel as though I have a never-ending desire to experience as much of creation as possible. In itself, I don’t think this is a bad thing. However, the reverse side of this coin can lead to a lot of things – from discontentment to foolhardy to simple restlessness.
Every story has two conflicts taking place – the Primary and Secondary Conflicts. The Secondary conflict is whatever you see from an outside perspective – this is the battle against the “big bad guy,” or the journey to the end of the world and back. The Primary conflict is internal, it’s the inner turmoil characters face when they must conquer their own character flaws in order to achieve their goals (which usually involves resolving the Secondary Conflict.
In the book where Ethan is simply a protagonist on a page, my Primary conflict would be my internal struggle between contentment and my healthy drive for novelty and adventure. I can’t tell you what my secondary conflict would be – I don’t have many evil warlocks to slay during this season of my life.
We’ve just finished our first full year in Spokane. On July 23rd, 2018 we rolled into Spokane, and it’s been a short year. A lot has happened – routines have been formed, friends have been made, and everything feels a bit “normal.” Of course, there is still some wonder in exploring the territory of the Pacific Northwest, and every once and a while I’ll glance at the snow-capped peaks on the horizon and remember how cool it is to be somewhere different. I’m happy here, and each day here we find new opportunities and new people to interact with.
But I’m also beginning to think of what’s next. My mind wanders to the future, to the children not-yet-mine, the friends not-yet-met, and the places not-yet-seen. I love new things – new relationships, new experiences, new places – and the love of these things motivates me to pursue things my reserved self would not otherwise pursue. When I feel like I’m lacking novelty, though, I know I’m prone to an unhealthy longing for new experience.
I’d like to say I’ve conquered this character flaw and lived happily ever after, but in reality I’m only just discovering the failures this flaw can produce. Arrogance, naivety, discontentment, and restlessness are normal struggles of mine as I learn to find adventure and novelty in the midst of my routine days.
This weekend, I’m going camping with some friends at Mount Spokane. There’s going to be around twenty of us and it’s going to be awesome. In three weeks, I’ll be back in West Virginia for the first time since December. This will be its own sort of novelty – when you’ve been away from home for a while, it can develop its own sort of novelty when you return. I feel like my first Tudor’s biscuit in eight months will have essentially the same effect on me as my first Tudor’s biscuit ever.
If you’re reading this and you empathize with my problem with contentment, I may be able to offer once piece of advice: find novelty in the everyday. Take camping trips, try a new hobby, set short-term goals you know you’re able to achieve. Try new restaurants, talk to someone new, invite an acquaintance over for dinner. The more you long for the adventures of the future, the more unattainable they will become. Find your novelty in the here-and-now, and learn to be surprised by your surroundings.
After all, our favorite characters are the ones who can turn their flaws into assets, and utilize their talents apart from their downfalls – and who doesn’t want to be someone’s favorite character?
This week’s featured photo is old at this point. I took this in May, during a trip to Rock Lake, a secluded lake about an hour outside of Spokane. This was taken at around 9:30pm, and it’s looking northward. The light on the horizon isn’t the sunset, its the light from the city of Spokane, about 50 miles away.
We went to the lake one Saturday evening to go fishing, but I picked the fishing hole based on it’s distance from the city. I wanted to try Astrophotography, which involves long (15~45 second) exposures of the night sky. This is a very light-sensitive process and any stray light in the atmosphere can be absorbed by the camera. Despite the still-prominent light pollution, I think I still managed to get a handsome picture of the night sky over Rock Lake. The streak on the left side is an airplane (the dashed line is it’s strobe, blinking about once per second) landing at Spokane Intl. The Big Dipper can be seen in the lower left. What other constellations can you identify? (Click the image to zoom in)
I’ll be back soon, with more pictures and more words for your screen. Until then, check the social media links below. This week’s picture was on my Instagram shortly after I shot it in May (although the resolution on the Blog is much more impressive).
I’ll catch you crazy cats next time.