Change is a law of nature, I’ve read. While writing my novel, I read a book on Dramatic Writing. One of the very useful insights it gave me was that characters must change, especially if the story was happening over many years. But some people don’t change, I thought. Yet the author went on sharing examples and advocating for this idea, insisting that characters must change over time. It’s a natural law, he advocated; change is everywhere, watch the seasons, the sky patterns, the moon vs crescent and many more aspects he pointed at.
Following the writer’s advice I did ensure that all my characters change with the flow of events, gradually sometimes and even if the change was minimal. But when it came to real life, I started to study people around me. Do they all truly change? Why do some people appear as if they are unchangeable. They adopt certain behaviours, act in a systematic way, have a set of routines and even reactions. The book was so convincing that I concluded that it was me who failed to notice the change because all people change as by the law of nature.
My observation skills failed me. The only change I was able to witness in many people was the increase of a trait, but not its change. The bitter became more bitter, the victim played the role with more proficiency, the selfish became a selfish pro, the forgiving was more forgiving, and the giving was more giving, maybe because people expected from him to give more. No matter what the reasons were, the only change I noticed was the ‘more’.
Attending a Mindfulness session one day a new perspective unfolded. My real unchangeable characters were locked up. They weren’t living in the present. They were locked up in a different tense. Whether it was the past or the future, they were occupying a zone out of the present tense. They adopted this ‘more’ per choice. It offered them security and saved them the hustle of changing themselves and the burden of dealing with the unexpected reactions of people in their circles towards the change. And because change is a natural law, the only change they allowed themselves was the ‘more’.
Are you locked up? In which tense do you spend most of your day? Are your changing or becoming a ‘more’ of your original version? “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living,” Gail Sheehy.