Guest post with author Elyse Douglas
Posted by Cate Dean
I am thrilled to have Elyse Douglas here, taking over my blog for the day. She has a powerful and thought-provoking post on people, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
So, without further ado, please welcome Elyse.
What do you like about people?
by Elyse Douglas
The total history of almost anyone would shock almost everyone.
Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960.
I love people’s eccentricities, weaknesses and shortcomings. I love the endless variety of personally and the diversity of race and cultural background. I find it utterly fascinating how crazy we all are and yet how successfully we manage to hide this behind facades of cultivated responses, religious beliefs and cultural brainwashing. I love to observe myself and others and then marvel at the variety of creative ways we struggle to be right and good and wise. Of course, we can never be any of these most of the time, because we are human, even if we can’t accept the fact or are afraid to do so.
As Benjamin Franklin said: “Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.”
All people want the same things: happiness, fulfillment, health, freedom and a good life for their children and for themselves. As a writer, I like to observe how people go about trying to achieve these noble pursuits. Will they steal for it? Kill for it? Die for it? Work three jobs for it? Will love cause a man to go insane? Will a woman sacrifice family, career and respect to chase after a no good lout. “But he’s really good, and true and loving on the inside.” It is the exposing of the “awful thing” that someone did, or thought about or wants to do that often sets up a good potential story. And, as a writer, I must confess that I am daily attracted to studying these things in people.
If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others.
~Francois duc de la Rochefoucauld.
So, I love people because deep down, I believe we all want to be good and true and loving. I believe there is something in all of us that is heroic. Otherwise, how could we shoulder on, battling “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
What gets in the way and stops us from our finding happiness and “I want to be a good person” goals? I once had a writing teacher who said you can build all your characters upon one simple emotion: Fear. What are your characters afraid of? Fear drives everyone: fear of failure; fear of loss; fear of love and of not being loved; fear of dying; fear of inadequacy, fear of not fitting in; fear of fitting in; fear of doing a bad thing and fear of getting caught… and on and on. This intrigues me. It is what I explore as a writer. What motivates people to act and react, based on fear.
None of us is as bad as we think we are or as good as we want to be. We are simply struggling to evolve, to understand, to be a little more conscious and hopefully a little more compassionate with ourselves and others. We are all living on a little round rock that is spinning out in the middle of nowhere and we don’t know how we got here or where we’re going. Most of us live with this incredible fact, calmly.
In most people, there is a splendid beauty. Call it the human spirit or soul or whatever. The majority of people live their lives the best way they can. I find that heroic. I find that admirable. I have great respect for that. Do we all fail? Yes, most of the time. But that does not negate the heroism (to quote Dorothy Fields) of picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and starting all over again.
I do not believe that enlightenment will come in a dramatic illumination, but in suffering stumbles and lengthening strides of patience, compassion and self-forgiveness. I suppose that is the way of the hero. And what keeps the hero going? Well, a good story can help. A good and true and loving story can always help a little. At least, Elyse Douglas likes to think so.
Want to know more about Elyse? You can check out her website.
And buy The Astrologer’s Daughter at Amazon.
Thank you for that post, Elyse. Well written, and loads of food for thought. What did you all get from it? I’d love to hear your comments.
Until next time – read on.