Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

If you are reading this, wherever you are, whatever the intricate stories of your life, you are breathing, conscious, alive and on this earth. And thus, you are a miracle.

I don’t know the stories you tell yourself. I don’t know what broke your heart; I don’t know what your eyes lit on one day that made you laugh for joy. I don’t know what you resent, or what you pretend not to know so that you can go on another day or another year. I don’t know if you are seated on the ground and wondering if you’ll have a meal today, or if you are comfortable in a hand crafted chair, wondering where your next vacation should be. Or if you are in fact on vacation, dazzled by the forest around you, forgetting your usual worries in favor of finding a great swimming hole or the next fine motel.

But, whoever you are, I know you are a miracle, & you have a story & you are, for the moment, alive on the same planet with me.

I know you dream at night sometimes. And maybe by daylight too. And that you hunger and thirst and are cold or hot and have thoughts you don’t want to face and thoughts that go round and round in your mind, if you let them—the what if thoughts, the if-onlies. And that sometimes you think no one listens. And sometimes, yeah, you are probably right.

Anyway, what I want to say-besides that you are present & a miracle—is that those stories you tell yourself,  the stories we tell each other, matter. They matter a lot.

I sit in the morning before a flickering pixeled screen, a magic mirror, a compendium of stories, and what flashes there is often a long blasted tale of despair, defeat, madness…or triviality.

Yes, I read the stories. I read the reports from the thousand and one war zones, which are always couched in very sanitized language. It is never, you understand, someone’s auntie who loved flowers who bleeds out under a “regrettable” smart bomb or drone mistake. I read the scientific reports, most of which seem to boil down to “hey, too bad about the coming extinction”. I read the stories of poverty, full of statistics (in the US one of four children goes to bed hungry. Or may not have a bed. This puts us slightly below Romania and definitely below most of the other “western” countries). And though I try to avoid them, the candidates’ foibles and dictums flicker past as well.

Of course there is also baseball. And some pretty celebrity working to regain her pre-baby body. And shootings in malls and photos of squirrels and instructions on how to buy the correct (clothes, shoes, car, house, servants) to be happy.

(This is when I am very glad I have a dog who needs walks, where I can tell myself different stories).

So here’s the thing. Beyond our personal stories, our ongoing dramas in which we are forever the heroes (hidden perhaps, perhaps misunderstood, but at the core of the story, right?)…in that big story of the times we live in, the times to which we came via amazing odds, via survival of ancestors from centuries ago and strange meetings and last minute changes—in the big story, let’s tell it really well.

Let’s not settle for a boring ending. Let’s not settle for despair. Let’s not settle for a story in which “well, nothing could be done”. Since we are telling our story, moment by moment, let’s tell it boldly. Let’s have a story with acts of love and defiance. Let’s have beauty and magnificent happy endings. Or better, let’s tell the story in which the world is whole, and life is beautiful, and the impossible…all those things other stories said could not possibly come to be…where the beautiful impossible happens. Here it is. Now.