We all have stories. Our lives are stories. Everybody else’s lives are stories.
We tell stories. We speak them out loud and we act them out by how we live our lives.
So just what is a story? Dictionary.com has seven different definitions:
Sounds to me like just about everything is a story, wouldn’t you say?
I love that word, story. Story. It just kind of rolls off the tongue, don’t you think? Stoooorrrrry. I love it because I think a story is so many different things. It’s what we tell ourselves. It’s what we believe to be true. It’s what we tell each other, our friends, our co-workers, our kids, our family. It’s the situation we find ourselves in: waiting on the side of a busy freeway for the tow truck to come change a flat tire, sitting in a hospital room preparing for a “procedure” to begin, blowing out the candles on a cake to celebrate the birthday of a new addition or an older family member’s longevity, enjoying happy hour with friends, navigating the crowded streets during rush hour, walking among the trees in the quiet of the day. I could go on but I think you probably get the picture – the minutes and hours of our days make up the stories of our lives. (Isn’t that the name of a soap opera or something?)
When I tell myself that whatever is happening in my life, whatever situation I find myself in, is a story, just a story of one more thing that’s happening in my life on Planet Earth, I become far more interested in how the story line is proceeding and I find myself watching the unfolding of the story as it makes it way to the conclusion. It’s kind of like reading a book. It’s a way of being observant, I suppose, of being a participant in the story instead of having the story happen to me. When the story is happening TO me, I begin to feel like I’m not in control of the story, like someone else is in charge of the story, like I’m a victim of the story. Even if I have no control over the specifics of what’s happening in the story – the doctor is late, the food I ordered isn’t what it should be, I burnt the toast and have no more bread to make more toast, my dog dies – even when it seems like the story is going on without my input, I can still choose how I respond. I can choose to be mad at the doctor for making me wait or I can throw a hissy-fit because I don’t have toast that isn’t burnt and I really wanted un-burnt toast. When I’m a participant in the story, even when it’s something I might not have chosen if someone had asked me if I wanted to be in this story, I feel like I have far more perspective and so I’m calmer on the inside. I’m not so calm, on the inside or the outside, when I feel like I’m a victim of the story.
One of the reasons I started writing this blog was because I had so many stories running around in my head, and I just wanted, no, needed, to get them out of my head. Maybe I wanted to make room for more stories, and as long as the stories already in my head were taking up valuable space, I couldn’t get any more stories in there. I felt like the story shelves were full! So I began writing, telling stories of what was happening in my life, putting my stream of consciousness into black on white, the words in my brain just falling out through my fingers. I began to get more perspective (there’s that word again!) on the craziness that seemed to be happening all around me as my life as I knew it came crashing down around me, as things changed more rapidly than I could keep up with. It helped me keep my sanity long enough that I finally began to feel like I could add two and two and actually come up with four, instead of three and three-quarters. The dark pit I had mentally fallen into gradually became lighter, my face began to smile more, my brain began to function again. I could look up from the ground as I put one foot in front of the other and trudged onward, as the trudging became less trudge-ery and more light-stepped.
And you know what? Even though at the time, I felt like the world around me was covered in a thick, black fog, like there was no hope for things to ever be any different than they were at that moment, for some strange reason, telling those stories allowed me to go on, one day turning into the next day. Today, I know I could leave Planet Earth right now, and I’d be satisfied that the life I lived while I was here was a good one, that someone smiled today because of me, that I tried to leave the space around me a little peaceful, and for that I’m glad I came. And it’s all because I told my stories.
So think about this: if your story is getting you down, if the story line is not going the way you think it ought to, if the characters in your story are boring, mean, or just plan ignorant, if the scenery in your story is dull and drab, start writing yourself a new story. Think about the “plot twists” you want in your story: do you want different people around you? do you want a beach setting instead of a mountain setting? do you want new adventures in your story? Whatever it is, you can start to re-write your story right now and the first step is just deciding that you want to change the story. Just being open to the change in your story will put change in motion. And if those changes start happening a little faster than you’re used to, don’t panic. It just means you’ve put yourself in charge of writing you story and the Universe is setting out to help you make it happen. If change seems to be coming slowly or not at all, think about whether or not you’re truly wanting to change your story. If you’re honest with yourself, you might surprise yourself and find that the stories of your life are okay like they are; they’re comfortable; you didn’t really want to change the story after all. That’s okay, you know. It’s your story! You can tell your story however you want to. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
And now I’ve told you a story about stories!
I do so love stories, don’t you?
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I’ve heard from some of you that I have some stories to catch up on so I’ll do my best to get some of those stories written (I think that’s a record – that word “some” showed up three times in that last sentence! Oh! And “that” is also three times in the sentence about “some”! Ha!) I’ve had requests for more information (including photos!) on my wrist repair surgery and updates on my health adventures, for more stories about food and new places to go and see, for more stories about people, places, and things (“more” times three!). And then of course, there’s always stories about coffee. I’ll see what I can do…