by Elle Cyre
Many thoughts on how writing has influenced my life.
|'ONEN I-ESTEL EDAIN, U-CHEBIN ESTEL ANIM.'
In the Lord of the RIngs films, Elrond and Aragorn repeat this quote. The correct translation is somewhere along the lines of 'I gave hope to the Edain, I have kept none for myself.' It refers to Aragorn's mother who, before she died, left her son in the care of Elrond. For that reason, he was known as Estel, or Hope, in his youth. But that's besides the point and the film's version is close enough.
"I give hope to men; I keep none for myself."
For some reason, this quote popped into my head when I was thinking about what it takes to be a good person. Everyone knows the Bible verse about 'laying down one's life for their friends' but that is a hard test and not everyone (or every protagonist) is going to be asked to do that. Or so you may think. However, if you really think about it, the two quotes mean the same thing.
Giving your life doesn't mean dying in the literal sense; it can mean sacrificing your hopes and dreams in place of those of the people around you. It can mean focusing on them first, giving them hope, comfort and love, while demanding nothing in return. That is true sacrifice; unselfish and generous. Think of the world around us. Everyone, everywhere, is focused on themselves, their own happiness, their own past and their own future. It's just human nature; we can't help but be inclined to be selfish. Can you imagine the difference, though, if everyone put their own wants last? If everyone sought to help each other first and foremost? If every action wasn't tainted with a selfish motivation?
True love, pure and unblemished, gives and gives with no thought of itself. It desires the happiness and welfare of the one it loves over its own.
Maybe your main character won't have the opportunity to take a bullet for the people they love, but they can prove themselves by the choices they make. It can be subtle, like declining a promotion to avoid having to move their family, or letting their girlfriend pick the movie to watch, or even as simple as listening to someone when they are having a bad day. Any act that places the need of someone else above their own is a selfless one, and if it is for someone that they don't even know or care about, it becomes heroic..
Meditate upon this; ponder the ways to incorporate it into your writing (and even in your personal life as well.) Look below the surface, plump the depths of your hero's heart, find out what really matters to them--and then give them a scene to prove it.