How To Develop A Great Supporting Character

How To Develop A Great Supporting Character

Sometimes you are somewhere or with someone not because it serves you but because it serves them.

It’s not always about you.

This is the wisdom of being a good supporting character in life.

Our culture is often main character-obsessed, and although it makes for great fiction, it makes for a lopsided life.

One of the greatest joys of my life was to relinquish my role as “main character” and become a supporting character for others.

Supporting characters are often viewed as less important and yet without them there is no journey for the protagonist to take.

Supporting characters are vital, they are necessary.

Sometimes life puts you in a difficult spot not to grow you, but to grow THEM.

If you get out of “you” for a moment, and think of the bigger picture, and just calmly and lovingly remain unchanged in the difficult situation the main character is in – you can let your presence soothe them.

You become leverage for their transformation. And this is only possible because life put you there and because you accepted the role as a supporting actor.

Main actors win awards for successfully stealing the show. 

Supporting actors win for successfully NOT stealing the show and humbly pushing the main actor forward.

In both instances, there is talent and skill. In both instances, one could not move without the other. 

Today, be a supporting actor, who in your life needs you to serve as a helper and a witness to their transformation… and not as a scene stealer?

Looking At Life From Different Angles

All spiritual teaching from all over the world contain the concept of a holy trinity, represented by the triangle, each point representing a different perspective of the same divine flow. 

But what always puzzled me was why did the ancient teachers feel the need to split what was obviously the same flow of energy?

I am now learning that the trinity is really about developing a healthy spiritual perspective.

If you picture each point on the triangle representing a point of view from which you can view the universe you may notice…

From one point you see the physical, the rigid, the straight; from another point there is the nonphysical, the formless, the jagged; the final point is the observer of the other two points that can integrate them. That can see life is both good and bad, both expanding and contracting, both happy and sad, both shadow and light.

This trinity teaches us not to get stuck in any one point of view because each is only a perspective. Sometimes all is dark, and there we learn. Sometimes all is light, and this is our school. Sometimes there’s a recognition that the two are the sides of the same exact coin and you rest in the connection of all things.

Perhaps the trinity is not so much representing a way of life but a way to view it. 

A prism through which we can determine how our current life lesson is unfolding. And at the same time, not attaching to any single view, playing with the possibilities and mysteries of each.

Sometimes we view this life not as its main protagonist but as its side kick. There’s nothing wrong with being a side kick, it’s simply a different view of reality, and from that point on the axis of truth, we may be able to glimpse the aspect of our universe that is bigger than one single person, one singly story.

Sacred Geometry 

Geometry is the vehicle through which all spiritual traditions and non-spiritual traditions can agree on: lines, points, shapes and angles don’t change.
They stay the same.

It’s not so odd that ancient civilizations were fascinated by the same geometric shapes that their counterparts on the other side of the planet were – the shapes and forms and patterns are everywhere and their perfection is obvious.

One can argue over the reason behind their significance but their significance can never be argued.

No matter how small or large, geometric shapes follow certain patterns and measures that can be proven to exist.

To the scientists this speaks to the perfection of the natural world and how it can grant us a wonder without the need for a belief in god; for the spiritual, they see this geometric perfection as incontrovertible proof that there is a god.

No matter what you believe, the fascinating thing is, these shapes still remain stubbornly the same, continually asking us to consider the depth and scope of existence – its complexity but also its simplicity.

If our very beings can be broken down into geometric shapes, than what are we but the same as a math problem that has its equation and its solution?

This proof of geometric perfection is what compels the scientist to find a theory of everything, and the spiritualist the god of everything.

One day, perhaps, both will find themselves only on the opposite ends of the same triangle reaching a fundamental point on the axis of universal truth.

Maybe that is the journey we are all on: halfway on the octagon, close to completing the shape, each on the opposite side, about to collide…

How to Develop A Good Supporting Character

Writing a good supporting character is the same as playing one in real life: you must place yourself in the opposite end of the geometric triangle. Ask yourself what opposing argument, or energy, is needed to make the current argument strong.

Your main character is weak and needs to be made strong? Give him a tenacious mentor or coach. Your main character is to hot-headed and stubborn? Create for him a soft, soothing presence as a supporting character so that his edges are smoothed out.

Every main character needs a supporting character, and every supporting actor must have some opposing characteristics, so that the friction of the relationship can help the main character grow.

This is why both fictional and nonfictional relationships with zero friction do not appeal to us: nobody grows, nobody changes when there is no friction.

We need each other to grow. We need each other to play each other’s opposing argument, so that together we can reach the higher truth beyond the triangle, beyond the way I see it, beyond the way you see it, and far beyond the way we both see it.

Much love,

Ollin

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Categories: Writer's Journal