We’re often told to romanticize our lives. That we’re the Main Character in the story and the rest are just extras. We are told to find our light and to shine brightly. And that makes a ton of sense…if you are a raging sociopath who doesn’t care about others. It’s easy to say that we’re the main characters of our own stories but the truth is we just can’t be the main character to everyone’s story.
I am a comic book character. I live a bombastic life with larger than life stories and a healthy and unhealthy amount of trauma to go with it. To those close to me I seem extroverted, charismatic and am eager to bring my friends along with me on my many desired adventures. I am a shonen leading man complete with dead parents and trauma-induced mental illness. And while I am enamored with the idea of being the main character in even the stories of my dear friends I am also keenly aware of the fact that every opera can only have one prima donna and I don’t realistically want to be the main character of any of my friend’s or anyone else’s narrative. To many people from my best friend, to the lady at the bank, to the guy at the sandwich shop or my coworkers and those I pay to make me feel pretty: I am an NPC.
An NPC is a non-playable character and in video games they fill in several roles. NPCs can either give you items or goods, be merchants or those that have items, they can help you as members of your party or they can just be truly background characters; static and never moving from their assigned spots.
Think about a game like Legend of Zelda which is full of
annoying charming NPCs who have a myriad of items for you and are there to help you, the main character, survive your death quest to fix the world’s evil or something. Some of them have items, some are just there, some may even help you along the way.
It may just be the part of my brain that tries to romanticize my own life that makes me nearly obsessively concerned about my impact on other people. It isn’t an entirely altruistic thing; it’s more of a morbid curiosity and nearly paralyzing fear. I am worried that I have left a bad taste in someone’s mouth or that I was the one bad interaction someone had that put them over the edge or something. I am very aware that I am one of possibly thousands of interactions any given person has in a day so I do my best to not just be pleasant but to be overly-accommodating at times because even if to them I am an NPC, I’d like that memory not to be a miserable one.
I’ve been listening to Nujabes since the mid 2000s with their many hits off the Samurai Champloo OST and was immediately struck by the not just lyrical genius behind many of the songs but the flow and how they could instantly make me feel like I was part of a movie or video game. It was easy to fall into the world of Samurai Champloo in part because it has such an amazing soundtrack that leads you on a journey with the characters and one that is as fluid and hip-hop inspired as the fictional Edo the series is set in.
I noticed particularly how much I liked their music when I had some of the most aesthetic songs pop up during my commute home from work. It just felt utterly right to be driving (at a responsible speed) down the highway with the stereo on and feeling like I was both my own main character but someone’s NPC. I was at peace with my twoness and the romanticization of my life was not something in conflict with the fact that to many I am an NPC but it was at harmonious one with it. I am the main character of my own story and to my friends, I’m trusted companion, to those I meet I am a seller, confidant, advisor or person crying in a Starbucks.
My story is still ongoing and told from many different perspectives and I am not the most reliable of narrators. You may be asking why I mentioned Nujabes earlier and outside of it just being amazing music, it’s also helped me realize this duality due to the simple fact that every romanticized character should have an amazing soundtrack.
So here it is: my OST. Let’s jam.
Nujabes – Tsurugi No Mai
Triumvirate (Me, Ricky & Carlos)
Samurai Champloo – Hiji Zuru Style [Impression OST]
Nujabes – Aruarian Dance (Samurai Champloo OST) . Track 03