Monday, 3 May 2010

Character Rundown

Endless debates occur about what the best thing in life is. Some would say it’s a fantastic live gig, others would say its having great sex, or watching a moment in a television show that makes your jaw drop. Those three would definitely rank up there for me, but of course it is different for everyone. The televisual moment happened for me today in fact, watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad. During different times in my life I would have emerged with different answers depending on the mood, the day or the time. For all I know the best moment in my life probably hasn’t occurred yet at age 26.

Yet my mind has an in built ranking system. Everything on every subject is ranked. Favourite TV show, favourite album, favourite band, but everyone has those. Have you ever thought about your favourite day in your life? No, it is not the best day in your life, just your favourite. I have been keeping track of my favourite day in my life for nearly twenty years and the day has changed four times. It’s the one day I would want repeated 10,000 times over if I starred in my own version of Groundhog Day, if I were to be so lucky. I will never tell anyone what this day actually was if anyone asked me directly. I can’t even remember the date (and this is highly unusual for my near photographic memory). But I will say I wasn’t expecting it to be my favourite day when I woke up that morning. In fact halfway through the day it remained nothing special, and then it changed within 30 seconds based on one random act of spontaneity. As much as the list making system is subject to change, it doesn’t budget for such miracles of joy.

The above paragraph acts as a metaphor of my life. Having acquired a disability from birth is the closest thing one can get to having a conditional life. If someone gave you a description of my life and asked you to live it for an indefinable about of time would you accept the terms? A supposed higher being would come up to you and say:

You will live a happy, well adjusted life. The people you love will love you back ten fold. But hang on a sec, you will have a permanent physical disability, and for every piece of happiness you gain, an equal amount of private struggle will consume you. Your life will be highly scheduled and ordered, but beneath the surface cracks will appear in your routine and because of this you will experience forms of indescribable joy. You may go on to have an influence in the wider world, but this remains undecided, contingent on the paths you choose to follow.

Sounds like a character rundown for a TV show doesn’t it? It could turn into a cheap soap opera, a gritty drama, or even a romance. But never a comedy. Too many struggles for a comedy. Since I was a little boy I’ve always imagined my life as a real time television show, a Truman Show before that become a part of popular culture. Plot would move slowly along, characters would arrive with huge back stories, and then mysteriously disappear. Characters whom the imaginary audience thought were gone would resurface and shape the narrative in incomprehensible ways. The show would end when I died, whenever that may be, the last viewer having finally turned off their TV. The afterlife could be a hackneyed tribute special where the viewers could relive their favourite moments over and over again. Lets just hope they agree with me on their favourite day.

When you think of life changing moments do your rank them according to their current importance? Do you collate lists of people you think have had the most impact on your life? Do you have theme music running through your head when you encounter your multiple villains? Does time literally stop for you when you encounter the person you love more than any other? Yup, maybe it’s just me.

The one major advantage that television writers have over me is that they can control the characters and plot. Yet here I am upon receiving a character run down, which I didn’t ask for, being asked to remain the only constant in a sea of uncontrollable events which I can not possibly alter.

Again I ask, if you were an actor and your agent asked you to take the character rundown as described above, would you? Me, I’m still undecided.

1 comment:

  1. As an actor I absolutly would.. :-) It would be a fascinating journey into a deep mind. It would make a great tv show.