Sunday morning, some months ago, I decided to start my morning with a movie. It rarely happens. I can’t remember the last time it happened, I usually work during the weekends as well. It was great.
It wasn’t because I wanted to see a specific movie, I browsed through the available ones, and being an anime fan, I ended up choosing a movie called “A Silent Voice”. I’ve heard about it and decided to give it a try. In short, it’s about a boy bullying his new girl classmate who has a hearing impairment. The movie follows this group of classmates as they grow up. I will probably spoil if I continue talking about it so just watch it.
Putting aside my final critique of the movie, it made me think about something. How we all have our own story, our background, our hopes for the future, our fears, desires, longings, excitements. This is not a novel thought, I’ve heard it before, by numerous people. The new thing that occurred to me was the way we experience our own story.
From the moment we wake up until the minute we fall asleep, and even while dreaming, the story is about us, the whole plot circles around us. We play the part of the hero. Our point of view for life is that of the hero of the story.
Not many wake up every morning thinking of how they can help another person fulfill their destiny. From the beginning of the day till it ends we’re busy with our destiny and heroic acts for the upcoming day/week/year.
No one plays a side character in their own story, even parents, who give so much for their children, view life from their point of view, through their own needs, struggles, and desires. However, if each of us is the hero of their story, then what role do I play in yours? What roles do we play in each other’s lives? In the lives of the people around us?
Not the role of the hero, since this role is already occupied. So I must be a side character in your story. I might be an important one, but I’m still a side character. A question arises, then, what kind of a side character am I in the story of the people around me? Which roles do we play in stories where we’re not the heroes?
Well, this is up to us, and for the people I care about, I choose to be a squire, the shield bearer of a knight.
If we're all the heroes of our stories, then, like in every good story, there must be villains and supporting characters as well. For the people I care about, I must be a supporting character, a squire, and most definitely avoid being a villain.
My role as a squire is to acknowledge and accept the other person as my hero and help them be a better one, support them on their missions. Root for them, help them even with things that might seem trivial. If you can help the people around you, slay their monsters while rooting for them as the real heroes, you will most definitely find the right path for their hearts.
Being a good squire requires a lot of thought. It’s a very active role. One needs to be very observant of another and carefully listen. We need to think about what the people around us go through and which monsters can we help them defeat? Which tools can we help them carry? Which prize we can help them achieve?
It requires of us a lot of attention to details and perspective-taking. We need to step into their shoes and imagine the way they can be supported. Is it by taking some of the load off their back? Is it by helping them with work-related issues? Do they need some moral support, or just to know that someone roots for them? Do they require somebody to help them without them even knowing? There’s a lot of thinking involved in being a good squire.
If it’s that hard to be a squire, it sheds new light on the people around us that support us. If we understand the effort involved in stepping away from our heroic storyline and be a good squire for someone else, then we can fully appreciate the people around us that do it for us.
Our parents, who devote so much of their resources to us, thinking about us and how to make our lives better, deserve more appreciation. We are not the heroes of their story, they are, and yet, they manage to step out of it and help us be the heroes we always wanted to be.
Siblings and good friends, supporting us, giving us moral support when needed, going out of their way to help, sharing our joy when we succeed. All of them are doing non-trivial things and should be very much appreciated for it.
Thinking about others will not make you a side character in your own story, of course, it’ll make you a hero that can support other heroes. That’s the kind of hero that I want to be.