Every story, good or bad, is propelled by the intricate interaction of plot and characters. However, you can have the most compelling plot, but without a character, not much can happen. It’s like having a sentence with only a verb. Stop! Listen. Go. Wait. These sentences are powerless without a character to carry out the action.
Characters give the story context and meaning. I have a box full of photographs in my garage I will probably never throw away. The characters in that box have changed throughout the years, and the photographs have chronicled those beautiful, and sometimes not so beautiful, transformations. Those two clueless twenty-something year old kids who fell in love hiking hand in hand in the North Georgia mountains, that doe-eyed newborn who looked up into my eyes, making love at first sight an actual reality, and the three others who followed causing my heart to profoundly grow, not divide – these are some of the memories contained in that treasure box of developed film.
And then there are the other images, shots with no characters at all, just flowers, trees, landscapes. For the life of me, I have no idea where or when they were taken. Ah, but when I see the same scenery with a child in the foreground, suddenly I remember the event or the location.
This is what people do. They give meaning, context, and beauty to our stories. The shared experiences remind us that life has happened and someone else remembers what took place. When I look at images of red stained mesas, I remember that Kevin and I stood breathless together, hand in hand, looking out into the divine artistry of the southwest. We did that together. We do a lot of ordinary life together too – dishes, paying bills, driving, drinking coffee, reading. My family, friends, and others are characters in my story and I am one in theirs.
I am so very grateful for the characters in my life and wait in expectancy for the new ones who will appear on the pages yet to be filled. I need them and they need me for the plots and twists that are to come.