Character. We all have some. Well, most of us do. In the process of writing and character development, I have come to learn that psychology and literature truly, as I once read, go hand in hand. You cannot have good writing without good characterization and that must come from the “knowing” or the study of characters.
Speaking for myself, character is something I find at once constant and ever evolving within myself. As I learn and grow, so does my character unfold. But the basic spine of who I am remains intact no matter the life experiences that threaten to break it. Since the age of thirteen I have loved and had the following poem close to me. Today, forty years later, I find this to be as close to my soul and the character of who I am as it was then. Perhaps even more so.
While you may already be familiar with this work, I find it and ever inspiring read and hope you enjoy, too.
What are your thoughts on character? Is it innately within regardless of outer drama, trauma, etc? Or is it malleable, dependent upon those life experiences that twist it down another path? Are we really who we are all our lives? When writing character, do you find yourself, as I do, discovering more aspects of character in others and yourself?
Here’s the work I spoke of that moved me so when I was a hippy dippy flowering child and still does, happy reading.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.