A while back, I discovered my phone had this neat feature where I could record voice memos to myself, kind of like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation, except these could only be about 15 seconds long. I was going through the voice memos, I guess you’d call them, yesterday, and most of them are pretty banal, but the last one reminded me of something I was meaning to write about, because it’d been bugging me ever since I put it on there, which was three weeks ago.
The Sunday morning of DNow, which is traditionally a great opportunity to catch up on the sleep you missed out on during the weekend, but I hadn’t been back in the first Baptist sanctuary in a long time, and it was sort of a surreal experience. I likened it to Bill Buckner walking back into Shea Stadium to someone who asked if it was weird.
Howie used an illustration in his sermon that morning that really bothered me, and it took me awhile to figure out what the problem was.
He set this scene in the high school cafeteria, with a girl on the outside clique of popular people, who tried to sit down at the table where the cool kids were, and got rebuffed, after passing up the tables with the geeks, the Goths, the skaters, the band kids, the wannabes, etc.
The star running back on the football team asks her out, and tries to get to second base with her (Arrested Development fans, picture Pete Rose sliding in headfirst here). She shoots him down and is cast from the circle of cool kids forever. At the end of the sermon, he flash-forwards to the reunion, where, of course, the star running back is now overweight and sacking groceries, the nerd with the crush on the oblivious cutie is now a software millionaire, and the girl that turned down the boy is, of course, very happy with her life.
All fine and after-school-specially good, but it stuck with me and there was something wrong with it that I couldn’t place until it hit me what the problem was.
Not to get all meta-textual or anything, but the problem with that illustration is that no one sees themselves that way, making it really hard to draw out a larger point from it.
In other words, no one sees herself as a supporting character in her own life.
Everyone’s at the center of their own narrative, which, when you think about it, is a little frightening, because you may see me as a major character in your story, while I see you as someone who has made a couple of cameos in mine.
I think that’s where some of our conflict comes with other people, that two people look at each other in their lives and see different roles, different levels of importance to the plot, with differing amounts of screen time, and we’re so bad at figuring all of that out a lot of the time that people get hurt. So who are the people in my life that want bigger roles that I’m not seeing?
It’s as good as anything to think about during the two weeks I’m waiting for my ipod to get fixed, I guess.