Of Vices and Virtues

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” ~Aristotle

Of all the quotes I’ve ever read, this one best describes my favorite central character in Fable–Michael. Sovereign, disciplined, and utterly selfless, he grieves for both his own world and the fate of those who would be his enemies. Of all the characters I’ve penned, he demands the most respect from me as an author, if for no other reason than he has shown me how little I know of the human condition and how very much I have to learn about true compassion and leadership.

It’s interesting that as authors we express at times through our characters what we cannot bring ourselves to even entertain; things we don’t rightfully understand, virtues we long to possess but never will, vices we secretly want to indulge in or chances we will never be granted. In costumes, like children at Halloween, we parade around worlds of our own making in various disguises, living lives where what might have been is, and where what can never be most certainly can. And we learn from this. If we are careful and pay full attention to what our characters are telling us we may even learn a little bit about our true selves.

I’m haunted by movies like Finding Neverland because I see in them my own mortality. Painfully so. Yet, what a life we live! To know what it feels like to soar through the skies unencumbered by the gadgets of men; to hold a sword, heavy and laden with honor, in your hands as you walk with pride and purpose onto the battlefield; to love a thousand blades of grass in a thousand different worlds, each one more intricate and complex than the last.

I will never be as honorable as Michael, but through his actions he has taught me the true meaning of the word. I will never be as brave as Ariana (or as stubborn), but she has pushed me farther than I would have ever gone without her. I will never be as emotionally wounded as either Brynn or Aubrey, but through their experiences I have come to deeply sympathize with those who are.  I think, for some authors, there is a little fraction of us in each of our characters.

Perhaps it isn’t so much that our characters are fragments of who we are now, but who we’ll be at some distant point beyond this existence. Maybe everyone else has been given only one life in which to learn eternal truths and we’re the blessed ones; we’re the ones who have been given eternity early. I suppose this means we shouldn’t squander it away or pretend that it’s something that it isn’t.  It isn’t a choice, it’s a whole wardrobe of vices and virtues, woven of tenuous and wondrous threads in colors that most couldn’t begin to imagine.

How lucky are we to have been chosen…

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