Friday, January 24, 2014

Deus Ex Machina

As we are all the main characters in the plot of our lives, it is easy to compare everything we do to the story of a play, book, or film. We are the ultimate hero or heroine, always the protagonist, never the sidekick. And while we may play the part of antagonist more often than we care to admit, how could we possibly truly see ourselves as the enemy or rival to our own lives? Perhaps there are those who are honestly selfless enough not to imagine themselves in the principal role, happy to support or live vicariously through the actions of others. Or perhaps they simply don't have the imagination to paint themselves into a magical land of champion conquest. To play any other part but the lead means that you are allowing the plot to dictate your actions rather than yourself.

That being said, when we find ourselves in undesirable circumstances, or seemingly backed into an unpoetic corner, it's ever so enthralling to envisage a miraculous saviour to fall out of the clouds... a knight in shining armor, a magical fairy godmother, or a Grecian "god from the machine". The key to the storytelling metaphor is recognizing that you are also the author, constructing the tale and building the pieces that bring it all together. In Greek tragedy, the term "deus ex machina" was created because a machine was used to bring actor's playing gods to the stage. To solve the unsolvable problem, only a great hero could save the day. This is why things like the lottery have become such a mythical image of hope. When I win the lottery I will do all of the things that I always wanted to do but could never wrap my brain around. When the man of my dreams comes riding in on a mystical dragon I will finally have the love I always imagined. When I find I am discovered by the record labels after casually singing happy birthday in full vibrato while walking down the street I will finally have my big break. 

But the very best part about the term "deus ex machina" is that you can create it. From gold or metal or magic or soul-dust, you can build your savior, earn your money, meet your soul-mate, and be a singer. Perhaps it takes time or effort, perhaps it means you have to open your heart or say and do and feel and believe. But the alchemy of your thoughts is a direct consequence of the actions of your life.

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