Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keeping Balanced

I subscribe to the StoryPeople “Story of the Day.” If you don’t know who StoryPeople are, you should really check them out. ‘Cause they’re awesome.

Sometimes I like to go back through and pick random stories to look at. On December 12th of last year, the day’s story was called “Balancing Act.” It read:

“I have a friend who used to ride bareback in a circus. In one picture I’ve seen she is wearing blue sequins with her smile spread wide as her arms. One time I asked her was it hard to balance? No, she said, you always balance. Only sometimes, she added, you balance on your butt.”

This attitude is one that I look for in story characters. I like the ones who understand that sometimes they just can’t avoid the fall. No matter what’s done, they’re going to end up on the ground. They more than expect the hit, they accept it. And they realize that hitting the ground does not actually signify failure. Even if they can’t immediately get up.

They are down, but never out.

They’re Mikey from Goonies or The Lord of the Rings’ Samwise Gamgee or any number of characters played by Sean Astin. They never say die.

They are the ones who don’t stop moving forward, not because they’re that cocky about their winning, but because they know that soldiering on is the only tolerable option.

And these are the characters who generally step up during the darkest moments of the story and give the hero the motivation needed to complete the quest at hand.

One such character who always stands out in my mind is Hermione Granger. Even when everything seemed at it’s absolutely worst – elusive, indestructible horcruxes/the boy she loved deserting the quest/her best friend fighting depression/the reputation of a man she looked up to called into question/total isolation from her family – she didn’t just sit down and say, “You know what? Fine. You win. I’m just going to lay on this rock for a little while.” She was clearly impacted by every negative thing thrown at her, but she took the hit and continued to balance. And by doing so, kept Harry moving forward.

How about you? Any characters that you love that could always keep their balance?

Tonight’s Christmas Viewing:

  • “Depth Takes a Holiday” (Daria)
  • Michael
  • “Season’s Greedings” (Lois & Clark


  1. Very interesting. I have always liked the friends in books. The ones who stand at the side and help the hero on simply by never giving up. (Sam as one.) They go through just as much as the hero, if not more because they cannot give up as the hero sometimes does. They encourage the hero to keep moving forward. One I am especially fond of is the pirate in my favourite book, Prisoners of the Sea. He did the same with the hero. He kept helping him move forward, even when things got bad.

    1. Yes, the friends often have a little bit more of the burden and a little bit less of the glory. There aren't generally any prophecies foretold about them, but the heroes couldn't achieve their grand destiny without them.