“Find the stories that help you comprehend the incomprehensible. Find the stories that make you stronger.”
— Eleanor Davis, How to Be Happy
The stories that give me strength are ones that deal with our understanding of ourselves and others. Ones where someone is forced to walk in another person’s footsteps and see what life is like from the inside of their head. In many of the stories and novels I have read where this has happened, it results in a certain alchemy taking place where each person takes on the characteristics of the other that they needed in order to become more successful in their own lives. Part of me has always wanted to reproduce that alchemy with almost everyone I’ve met.
We are all such mysteries to each other. We believe we have true understanding or perspective or at least enough to judge what another should do or where they are right or wrong yet seldom unaided can we truly know what it feels like for them from the inside. The funny thing is it is not all that difficult. If we start with getting to know the person, really listen to them and get a feel for their lives and experiences and how they experience them, we can begin to imagine what it is they are going through. This does not mean that we agree with their choices or would make the same ones but it means we can understand why they made them. We can experience their triumphs and what made them strong and we can know what makes them weep. The more people we can understand in this way, the stronger we become.
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
— Franz Kafka
The song of my own styling
is a rainbow in the dark
full of broken colours
and long roads
The melody does not sustain
and harmonies are rare
yet there’s magic in the lyrics
I hear it when I’m sleeping
and sing it to the dawn
Its carried in my backpack
and my heart
It’s a sad and joyous tune
a riddle and a plan
yet there are parts
even I don’t understand
yet it holds me in the dark
and it sings me under cloudy skies.
— G A Rosenberg
The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.
I stand at the crossroads. Funny, how I never seem to go too far past. Perhaps I like bargains too much. Long ago I made a bargain to explore as many different paths as I could. The way that works out is that I choose a direction and I start moving. I scope out the terrain whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual in nature as I move. I talk to people walking in the same direction and learn what I can from them. I see as far ahead as I can, curious as to where the road will take me. I start getting a concept in mind and before I know it I am back again at that omnidirectional crossway. I may be a bit more knowledgeable and a bit more bruised but the experience has been gained. In the crossroads it may be quieter yet the possibilities are endless. Soon a path will call me. I’ll dust off my backpack and set off on a new adventure. How long does this take? It depends as the duration is one of understanding more than it is one of time. Thus I remain a spiritual vagabond.
“Just stories. You and me, everybody, we’re a set of stories and what those stories are is what makes us what we are.”
“It’s all those stories and how they braid together that tells us who and what and where we are”
— Charles de Lint
The stories that we tell ourselves about our lives are amazing. We write ourselves as heroes or victims and then go on living the roles that we have created. If the stories we tell of our lives are unhappy ones than we go on living unhappy lives. If the stories we tell are of fulfilment and joy than that is what we live. What happens tho if we change the story we tell? What if we take the unhappiest chapter of our life and reframe it as a valuable lesson learned that brought us joy? What happens if we take that one thing we always blamed ourselves for and change it so that while we accept the responsibility for our reactions, we accept that we were living according to who we were at the time and it wasn’t our fault.
When it comes right down to it, very little in our lives is our fault. It is our responsibility tho to deal with the consequences, to learn and then move on. This isn’t always easy. But if we change our tale, we can create a new story for ourselves and ultimately a much happier life.