Sometimes, Characters Leave The Party

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Two paths split apart in the forest

We moved to Orlando a little over a year ago and soon found a church that we loved. After a few weeks we made friends with a couple who later became like family to us. They were such good friends that when our daughter was sick they were the first to come visit. Not to mention all the shared meals and times of getting together for art and fellowship’s sake.

But as many have said in the past, “the only constant is change.”

A few months ago we helped our friends pack their moving truck, bound for South Carolina. There was even serious talk about tagging along. After all, the only reason we’re tied to Orlando is that we made lasting friendships here. And we do love a good adventure.

But if nothing else, the timing wasn’t right for us and we stayed behind. That got me thinking about how in life sometimes people, characters, go different directions.

We tend to idealize it in stories. Like how Gandalf separated from Frodo and company to research, showing up later in time to bust up a Balrog. Which was an even longer separation.

Most of the time, we keep our characters together. They go all the way to whatever Mount Doom we write. And then they may change it up “years later” by getting married or leaving.

But sometimes you don’t get a year.

Look at any given job, on any given project, someone will leave. Regardless of the deadline and what is at stake. If that was our quest, they opted to stay at the Inn. Or maybe there’s another castle they’d rather storm. You can even see separation in the Bible. Paul and Barnabas disagree over about another person and part ways.

Our friends aren’t always flakes. They have their own lives to live. Unlike most written stories, in life there are so many threads in play that it’s dizzying. We picture ourselves the lead character, but so does everyone else. Each of us takes part in hundreds of “quests” during our lifetime. Some are important, others end with pizza. Okay, pizza is important, too.

Nothing guarantees that our characters will stick together. And we shouldn’t be so set on keeping them as a group that we miss their shot at life, too. I would argue that readers resonate with the necessity to leave. Sometimes there’s pressing research. Other times the call of the countryside is just too much to resist. And then, there’s pizza.

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