This is the takeaway idea from the podcast story, The Machine and it’s all about a character’s (and our) wants and needs….
Today’s takeaway idea is going to be a little different. It’s part story analysis or writing analysis, and part the typical… here’s an idea!
We can title this takeaway idea, “WHY RACHEL HAD TO DIE!” (duh, duh, duh!)
In this story, I think what constitutes heroism comes from the character… Rachel. Nothing would have truly changed without her, and I think that’s heroism in this story. The person who acts is the one who enables change to occur. Everyone else in the story was content doing the same thing, but Rachel sought something better, and acted accordingly. That altered her course and the destiny of everyone around her. Sure, Barry may have discovered the secret in the chamber, the idea of the mosaic cubes, but he would never have been in that chamber without her.
So, why did she have to die? It’s all about character growth…
Want and Need
The main character of the story is still Barry. He’s the protagonist and we read the story from his perspective. Therefore, whatever happens in the story is basically to help Barry change and grow. And, hopefully to help us grow too. As a writer, we’re told to think about what does your character want, and then, what do they need?
Barry wants Rachel, and he wants a home in Arbor Estates. But, he missed the opportunity for the home he wanted, and he’s been waiting for some right opportunity to express his feelings to Rachel. Every moment, Barry is indecisive, and follows Rachel’s lead. He’s decisive when it comes to reasoning, but not action. That’s what he needs. He needs to become someone who acts on what they want in life. That’s the lesson that Rachel teaches him, and also, why she needed to die for him to learn it.
Here’s the main idea in her words:
“There’s never been a guarantee for tomorrow, B. Never. Just an opportunity for one, and the opportunities of today.”
This is what she says at the very end, before they get reset back in the time-loop and forget all the events that transpired. Right before the time-loop resets, Barry gets all he wanted. He gets the girl, but he never learned to not hesitate. And then, reset (snap!).
If Rachel lived, Barry would have forgotten all that happened before, and would be living as if there were many tomorrows to come. He would be the same man we met at the start of this story. He’d have Rachel as a close friend, and he’d have opportunity, but Barry would still hesitate to tell her his true feelings.
If Rachel dies, though, Barry is forced to reconcile the fact that he waited too long. It would course through his mind… if he only told her how he felt the day before the time-loop. If he did that, he would have spent three years repeating the same day but they would have been with Rachel, knowing that they loved each other. That thought changes a person—changes a character. It’s the pain of regret.
So, Rachel had to die, to teach Barry what he needed to learn. He loses what he wants, but becomes the person who lives his days to the fullest, without waiting for tomorrow. He has an opportunity to find something and someone else he wants, and when he does, we know he’ll go for it.
Show, Don’t Tell
You might also notice that this means the character of Barry would have made that change regardless of the events that led them to the chamber, regardless of the entire rest of the story here. Rachel dies no matter what, he feels regret no matter what, and changes all the same. So, why tell the rest of the story? Well, it’s cool!
And… it shows what Barry will be like in this new world. Rachel was the hero, and now Barry will be. He’ll be like her, seizing the moments, hopefully inspiring others the way she inspired him. Barry will be the one who acts and enables change.
And that’s where I want to focus in my own life right now. Not waiting on a guarantee of tomorrow. It’s not living in fear of a looming death around every corner, but choosing to spend our time exactly as we desire to do so, because our time is the most precious thing of all.
There’s never the guarantee of tomorrow, only the opportunity of one, and only the opportunities to seize today.
I hope this story, and Barry’s journey, inspire you to take a little more action. And not big, seemingly heroic action, but small little steps that add up over time to great change.
Thanks again for listening, everyone, and I look forward to delivering the next story to you soon! Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know when I do : )