How much control do you really have over your own life?
That’s a tough one. It’s a question I’ve often wrestled with and I’m not going to pretend I’ve found the perfect answer.
I can tell you this much: it’s somewhere between absolute control and none at all.
I know. Helpful, right?
There’s a benefit to finding the balance here. If you believe you have no control, you might wonder what the point is in trying. If you think you have total control, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed when, inevitably, things don’t go your way.
Somewhere, there is a place of healthy surrender that allows you to accept what you can’t change and a determination to change what you can.
If this is sounding familiar to you, it’s likely because I’ve touched on it before.
There’s a word that’s come up a lot this past year, one I’ve rested my thoughts upon like a bag of potatoes on a scale. The word: Agency.
Just what is agency?
From wikipedia, agency is:
The capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.
Even in Christian circles (and squares too) there are some major disagreements on how much is up to us. Is God doing everything here or do I have some say in the matter? It all comes down to agency.
In story writing, the necessity to create characters with agency comes up again and again. Characters with strong desires and inner drives—the kind that make things happen—tend to be more interesting than those who just get bullied around by the plot and don’t put up a fight.
Indeed, some of the best stories (in my opinion, and probably yours as well) are those in which the protagonist refuses to back down or give up the fight, no matter how grim the odds. The movies IP Man and Unbroken come to mind here. Sorry, Japanese, you don’t get a lot of love in either of those. Does it help if I say Studio Ghibli is amazing? I mean, come on, a cat bus? Wow.
Where were we? Oh yeah, so where does agency come from? Do we muster it up ourselves or is it granted to us from a higher power? Why do some seem to have more of it than others?
Quite frankly, my dear, I’m not quite sure. There is much to consider about agency.
Like most things, it’s helpful to start with a few investigative questions:
What does agency look like in your life and in the lives of people around you?
Is it something you strive for?
Do you take responsibility for your actions?
Do you own the work you do?
Is anything truly yours?
Like I said, I don’t have the answers. But it’s something to think about isn’t it?
How about this: when I figure it all out, I’ll let you know. Until then, I’m going to try my darnedest to do my best at the things that matter most. But at the same time, I want to work on being humble and thankful for even getting the opportunity to try.
Can any of us really say we’re the masters of our destiny? Or maybe secret agents of agency?
I have my doubts, but, at the end of the day, I’m just glad to be here and I’m glad to be me. And I’m glad you’re here too.