Every good story has a hero—someone who, no matter how flawed, learns, and grows. A hero always evolves into a better version of themselves—usually because someone who shows them the way. Yep, every good story also has a guide—someone who teaches the hero in ways big and small, someone who sees the hero’s potential, even when the hero doesn’t.
I have often said to myself, “I want to live my life like a good story,” and I believe this is a desire of every human. Sometimes we long to be a hero, other times, we want to be the wise one giving sage advice, or maybe we want to be rescued in our hour of need.
It wasn’t until recently that I understood how good the story I’m living really is.
Over the past week and a half, I spent time with my wife and kids on the Oregon coast. We played in the sand, enjoyed good food, played games, and connected without distractions.
After the kids went to bed, my wife and I would read or play a game, but sitting in her presence stirred something inside of me that I couldn’t put my finger on. She fills me up and makes me a better person in so many ways, but my thoughts about what we have were something I couldn’t put into words. At least not until this past Friday morning.
My son is an early riser. At 630, he woke up an came into our room, crawled into bed, and asked if I wanted to watch an episode of Sherlock with him. You bet! So I crawled out of bed and snuggled up with him on the couch. Ten years old, and he still loves to wrap up in a blanket with his dad.
It’s not often that a profound life lesson comes out of early morning Netflix, but a line from the episode we watched hit me hard.
In Season 4, episode 2, Dr. Watson (played by Martin Freeman) says to his wife who had recently past, “The man you thought I was is the man I want to be.”
There they were. The words I had been looking for, they perfectly articulated what had been stirring inside me on our family trip to the coast.
Is it possible to be the hero and the guide in the same story? Because if so, my wife is it. When I look into her eyes, she sees things in me that I don’t understand, but I know that the man she thinks I am is the man I want to be. However, it goes beyond that. I have failed her countless times, and yet she forgives me for my shortcomings, tells me she has faith in me, and moves on, guiding me down a path to a better version of myself.
Not only is the man she thinks I am, the man I want to be; she gives me the strength I need so that one day I might be the man she believes I am.
Hero and guide, all wrapped up in one cute package.
I think that’s how relationships should work. When people choose to see the best in one another, both are given the opportunity to become something more. Remarkable power rests in how we choose to see others.
When I look into my wife’s eyes and try to understand what it is she sees in me, I encounter the man I want to be.
This begs the question, what does she see when she looks into mine?
What do people see when they look into yours?