Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are peak experiences on sale at Wal-Mart?

Just as we do in real-time life, characters must arrive at work every day with expectations.  They may brown bag it to save money, they may dress casually on Friday, but they must have some goal driving them forth, some agenda beeping away like the monitors on hospital TV dramas that intensify to suggest crisis.  The agenda is many ways defines the character.  How could we not feel a measure of sympathy and identification for the parent who wanted children to advance according to their talents?  How could we fail to experience a squeeze of identification for the hard-working immigrant who wants to bring the rest of his family along?  Doesn't our heart go out to the young artist who seeks beyond fame and recognition the achievement of special, intense skills and the empathy with which to give those skills an entire perspective?

The roommate of expectation is reversal, an intimacy college dorm mates experience well into their post graduation years.  Expectation and reversal are borrowed like shirts, sweaters and dresses.  The relationship is intimate because one follows the other, in real-time life and in story.  It is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Burns had it right with "The best laid schemes of mice and men..."  They play off one another like the old vaudevillian teams, building plot twists via response at every turn.  Felix leaves a Post-it note on the refrigerator,signing it merely with his initials.  FU.  Felix Unger.  Oscar, big blustery sort that he is, sees the FU and explodes.

Persons who manage to achieve or seem to achieve everything they want are bigger than life and more boring than life.  It is not so much schadenfreude that makes us want some pigeon to come home to poop if not roost; we have all experienced loss and disappointment that wrenched from us something we thought we had or could have.  It is what we do in consequence of the reversal that sets us apart.  Similarly, it defines our characters.

If we had truly wanted what was denied us or taken from us, we would be making plans to get it back or replace it or go after something even more intense, leaving the door open for act two finale of regaining what was lost, then paving the way for act three, discovering that the goal wasn't worth the price paid for it.  Sound familiar?


Post a Comment