Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lessons learned from Anita Blake

I just finished reading the most recent Anita Blake novel, Blood Noir, by Laurell K. Hamilton, the 15th straight I've read in the series since starting back in December. Yes, unemployment has left me with a lot of free time. The newest book, Skin Trade, comes out in June.

One thing I like so much about the Anita Blake series is the extraordinary development of the central character from book to book. This is what makes her different from the fictional characters such as MI-6 agent James Bond, implacable crusader Batman, or the lovesick characters in the Twilight Saga.

The Anita Blake we see in her debut novel, Guilty Pleasures, looks at the world in black and white, good and evil, alive and dead. She also starts out with a very puritanical view of sex, nudity and monogamy, but over the course of her adventures becomes exposed to many different viewpoints, both human and non-human alike. Some of her choices are forced, but others are the result of getting comfortable with the people in her life. Eventually, she arrives at a place where she can honestly say that her life works, that she has people close to her who "get" her, and she feels as much at peace as anyone in her line of work has a right to feel.

Of course one might argue that Anita falls victim to corruption through her association with vampires, witches and shapeshifters, and the fact that her moral compass and value system changes so much is a flaw in her character, not an asset. On one hand, you can say that values and morals should remain constant and unwavering. On the other hand, you can argue that your circumstances should dictate your values and morality - otherwise, it's very easy to impose your own values on others arbitrarily, just as Javert persecutes a starving Jean Valjean in Les Miserables mercilessly for stealing a loaf of bread.

Of course if you are a reader of this blog, you know that I fall into the latter category. My personal development has been nearly as dramatic as Anita's, and perhaps I've embraced change more easily because I wasn't raised with such a black and white view of the world that usually comes from an orthodox religious upbringing. All my well-documented beliefs about polyamory, pansexualism, living in the present and unconditional love have been shaped by my unique life experiences, not by what I've been formally taught, and certainly not by accepting the commonly held viewpoints and status quo.

Some might view these changes in belief as akin to compromise, and I don't care to argue the semantics. Call it what you will, but I don't believe in absolutes and sticking to the hard line policies. I believe that life is about being open and honest about your choices so that you won't have regrets. I can say that, like Anita, I've created a life that makes sense for me. But even more importantly, I know that if my circumstances change, I can find a way to create a new reality within myself if necessary.