History, Herstory, Yourstory
doesn’t like a good story? Humans are story tellers by nature.
We’ve been doing it a long time. On cave walls, humans painted
stories at least 30,000 years ago. Before there was writing, people told stories
in song and poetry. After writing, we developed history and literature
and we had permanent stories. Now we have the news. Sometimes the
news doesn’t fulfill the need for completion that comes in a good
story, so we have conspiracy theories that explain the mysteries that
Stories make sense of the world. Without a good story,
a horde of Greeks would have trashed the city of Troy, but nobody would
have remembered. Troy would have faded from memory as did thousands of
other ancient cities that were burned. But Homer had a story to tell
that involved romance, scandal, heroes, danger, trickery and conquest.
The Iliad was such a good story that it produced the first sequels that
we know of. The story made sense of extremely disturbing happenings.
Sometimes, we call stories myths. Usually, the term is used to refer to stories attached to someone else’s religion.
the story is our own, we may not notice that it is a story at all. It
is our life. But we need to have a story. We need to be able to explain
to ourselves how we got to be who we are. We lived with certain people
and they treated us a certain way, and because of that we did certain
things. We had consequences to the things we did, or we didn’t
have apparent consequences, and those events helped form our
character. To know ourselves, which we must do to develop, we need to
know the story that we have told ourselves. That doesn’t mean we
need to make one up. It means we need to recognize that we have created
our own myth and that we are giving meaning to our life through it. Or
perhaps the story is telling us that there is no meaning in our lives.
That’s when it is even more important to recognize the story.
your story. Think about your story. What do you tell yourself about
what has happened in your life? Are there heroes and villains? Tragedy?
Triumph? Humor? Is this an exciting story or does it seem dull? Are
there things in your story that you would like to change? You might
want to write the story. You might also make a timeline of events you
consider important and notice the emotions that are attached to those
loose from the story. Recognize that you possess the human trait
of making stories. The story will explain that things that happen to
you are because of something or other. To some extent, you’ve
figured out the way the world works and your place in it. The story may
be simple or complex. You’ve developed beliefs about who you are
and who other people are and the way the world works. Try, for a
little while, to stop doing that. For a few minutes, or a few
hours, seek to be mindful of your experience without creating a story
about it. Observe your experience without attributing motives, placing
blame, labeling yourself or others as heroes or villains. Take out, for
a while, the winning and losing. Just notice what it is to be, to
experience without interpretation.
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© 2009 Tom Barrett