We are all bad in someone’s story.

Are you the protagonist or the antagonist in the story? 

Well, it depends on whose story we are talking about. We are all the protagonist in our own story. But the role we play in other’s is varied, depending upon whose story we are telling… right?

In one person’s story, we are the comedic sidekick. The one that brings giggles and laughter and comic relief.  In another’s story, we are the romantic love interest bringing all of those treasured qualities to life. And to another, perhaps we are the wise sage who imparts wisdom at key moments in their life.

But, sadly, if we think about it… in someone else’s story, we are the antagonist. The villain. Sometimes this is due directly to us and other times it is through no fault of our own…. It is just a perception. And much as we might opt to rectify it, the reality remains that we are who we are to them, and in some circumstances, there is just nothing we are able to do about it and in their Book of Life, we are the bad person.

When Illusion Factory was in an earlier period of our development, we were a much larger shop with lots of employees. I knew all of them by name, their spouse’s names, their kid’s names and we were like a family. 

And then….    

The housing market exploded  and the US economy tanked out of nowhere. This happened one year after the Writer’s Guild Strike in 2007 had already decimated the entertainment industry and while the industry was just trying to recover, the housing market collapse pulled the rug out from underneath the recovery.

It was the single most debilitating moment in my career. At the time, we had spun off two other companies out of The Illusion Factory, and we were waist deep in promoting this new technology we had created that was video conferencing on your computer… who would ever need that capability? Month after month passed and the economy only worsened and George W. Bush was unable to pull it all back together again. People who had worked regularly through the night to make deadlines for our clients were looking to me to find the solution in a situation that I had no control over, and there was no path to safety at that point.

So I burned through all of my life savings trying to keep everyone employed, trying my best to be there for all of them, while also trying to save the company I had 35 years of my life invested in. Eventually, the writing was on the wall and I had to start choosing whom to lay off and whom to retain. I am sure Sophie’s choice was much harder than mine, but mine was excruciating for me. The night before I had to make that announcement, I couldn’t sleep, so I grabbed a flashlight and stormed up the mountain in the darkness and sat atop my sanctuary, hoping and praying for a miracle. (Spoiler alert… there was no miracle!) and when the sun rose and the sky was a brilliant canvas of exquisite colors, I made my decision.

I am sure I am the bad person in many of their stories. One of them was one of my best friends and I was Godfather to her son. She has never talked to me since and I have not seen my Godson since.

Life is what it is… lot’s of twists and turns, choices and tough decisions. We do our best with what we have, and in the end, we can only be our very best person at any moment in time.

And even then…. We are still going to be bad in someone’s story.  Like it or not.

Happy Tuesday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!