Saturday, February 18, 2012
What we are not (good news)
What if the on-going narrative we have always thought was our story, our defining story, was not that at all. What if those details were merely things that happened to us, not who we are.
The recent post sharing Ben Okri's quote and video, and the responses it received, jolted me out of one of my fogs, a default position in which I convince myself that whatever I'm doing is a reasonable substitute for thinking. My story - likely all our stories - is not a closed room or vacuum, in which the things that happened remain in place, exactly as they occurred, with me marooned there, reshuffling those pieces as the only cards I'll be allowed to play. That story is not THE story, but more likely the ticket for a mythic journey, upon which I would not, could not, have embarked without the whats of the story setting events in motion.
"Getting stuck in our story" is a phrase a therapist friend used one day, referring to how any of us is capable of repeating, endlessly, the grievances, wounds, losses, disappointments, resentments, horrors, and so on, that we experienced. In my most coherent moments, I am able to say, as one of the facts of life for which I am most grateful, I'm still here. Where there once may have been drama, now there is calm. Life is a skill with the longest learning curve, with the possible exception of Photoshop, which I have no intention of trying to master. We are neither our faded glories nor our faded traumas. Those were towns we passed through on an extended road trip. Remember, if you wish, the root beer floats, the mosquito-plagued motel, the moments, ups and downs, the cars and their drivers. None of them are here. And the sum of them does not add up to an authentic self. Who we really are has always loitered, or hidden, behind the events; we did not become them, nor they us.
This information is the hamburger too big to bite, or almost. As soon as I could absorb it, I could feel its truth. For now, I'll leave the thought here for all of us to nibble upon. As I digest this slowly, I realize I could write of all the ways in which I am not my story until I had each of them firmly in print, with hard copies in at least three separate files and maybe a tattoo that I could read without straining. I am not my story. I never was my story. That makes so much more seem possible.