Friday, September 15, 2017

Star And Bit Player

I often confuse the nature of the role of my life in the lives of the others.

I think myself to be the starring role in their lives, a major character that move in and out of the scenes with the cameras trained on me and the people themselves wondering what I am doing when I am off camera.  In point of fact I am not the star: I am a bit actor or at best a character actor, there to fill a particular role or function or even of proof of plot concept, perhaps occasionally in the camera's main view but more often in the background of shots and for a much shorter time than I care to believe.

It is not a dishonorable thing, of course:  if my car is malfunctioning or my air conditioning fails, I am of course going to call someone to come in and fix these things.  But I would find it highly odd if the car mechanic got into the car after the repairs and came out to us with dinner or the the air conditioning repairman stepped in after repairs and sat down on the couch waiting to watch a movie.  At best I would look at them oddly and cough slightly uncomfortably; at worse I would ask "Exactly what do you think you are doing?"

Yet somehow in the exercise of real life, I think I am different.

I am not quite sure where this sort of confusion comes from.  I feel fairly certain that it has always existed - I can remember times even in my own youth that I struggled with the same sort of thing and had others struggle with the same sort of thing, but on a much smaller basis. I blame (perhaps not surprisingly) social media with its almost constant focus on me, me, me.  I can publish so much about myself and my activities, my thoughts and my opinions, all so quickly and painlessly and in real time, that of course everything is going to be about me in the lives of others:  I can blanket them with myself. The camera really is always on me.

Until - at least for the self aware - that moment comes when the realization occurs that this really is not the case.  My role really was ever only that of the fourth officer or Star Trek Red Shirt or repairman, there to move someone else's life along - and once it is moved along, the ship course changed or the monster having demonstrated its method of killing for this week's episode or the air conditioning blowing cool air, my role is complete.  I may be back for other cameo appearances or I simply may disappear, to show up in the list of uncredited actors that almost no-one ever really stays for.

I can feel hurt or confused or even angry about this, but in reality there is little cause for me to feel so.  I made the cardinal mistake of believing that my life bore a greater import in the lives of others than my opinion warranted.  The fact that they do not "recognize" my gravitas and significance is no failure of theirs - they are, after all, truly the stars - but of my own confusion about the nature of my role in their lives.

Because in the end, of course, it extends to the greatest argument I can ever have within myself about my role:  I am, ultimately, a servant, not a star.  Servants never forget their roles no matter what circles they move in.  Those who are see themselves not as servants but as main characters often do.

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