Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Arcs

I have trouble making my life a compelling story. People like to be happy but don't really like to read about happiness. I actually propose that people prefer to peek into the dysfunctional features of unfulfilled lives far more than they think they do. It is the train wreck effect. But more than that it is the relief effect.

We escape into the fantasy worlds that are the stories we consume to find out that we are better than the characters portrayed. We don't have to face the danger of the situations. We don't have to do or be anything that we read about. The best part about a story is that it portrays the world in some way below us. When we can comfortably walk away and say “I'm better than that” then we are safe in the fantasy we have constructed.

And that's why we don't like anything without conflict. What is the fun in a happy family that lives a life that we dream of? I venture to guess none. And my life is without conflict right now. At least nothing I can make compelling. And my life isn't a dream. That is a blatant lie. But I am happy and to report on the mundanities of a life of satisfaction is to bore the reader into a coma. I find myself content.

And no one writes a story where that is the entire arc. Nostalgia cannot be the entire premise behind the story. We, as people attached to drama, attached to catharsis, attached to the base human, cannot find the happy moment equivalent to the story. Think of it, who tells a story about how happy they are and have an audience enthralled by the concept?

If I were to describe the happiest moments of my life with the people I love, people would react with a misty-eyed quality. They would inquire as to its reality, and ultimately they will ask the juicy question. Why didn't that last? And that would be where the blockbuster starts. And that is what we care about.

So. Here stands my story for the day. I woke up after passing some quality time with my cousin by the fire, I helped my grandfather learn to use the computer, I spent time with my grandparents, and I ended the day sampling beers with my beautiful girlfriend.