I’ve been thinking a lot about story. I love stories; I am an actor after all. I’ve been listening to a podcast where a husband and wife, both writers, dissect the story telling structure of a popular tv show. This tv show is based on a series of books that I read years ago, and was secretly in love with. (It was a secret because these books are definitely in the romance section of any book shop, which is somewhat embarrassing to admit. In hind site, I think some of my questionable dating choices were based on the lead male characters physical assets.) That said, I’ve been listening to them discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the adaptation. One of the things that intrigued me the most was how each character has his or her own version of the story. What is her own interpretation of the events? Is the narrator a reliable narrator? We tend to interpret the world around us and somehow squeeze it into a narration of our own lives. These events, most likely, will encourage the continuation of our story, even if the events, with a slight perspective adjustment, could be in opposition. If we do not see it differently, then it will not change. Our story will continue as it always has.
How do you interpret the story of your life? It’s easy to believe things to be different or could be different when you are nearing closer to your goals. But what if the things you long for are, seemingly, out of your grasp? Of course the first step is realizing that you are filtering your world through one perspective. “This always happens to me.” “It will never change.” “I’m the unlucky one.” “I will always be alone.” “I should be different.” Dr. David Burns calls these cognitive distortions. I see them as lies. The lies we tell ourselves. As children we often take the blame for the mistakes or the problems of our parents. How many kids have you met when asked about their parents divorce, think they had something to do with it? Once you see the lie for what it is, then we can create a new narration and a new story. In the Bible, the Psalmist says to “Sing a new song.” It’s as if we hum the same humourless and tuneless song over and over again until we realize that there are new notes we can use. I find this the hardest part. It shouldn’t be as I so value imagination and optimism. Everything in me screams, “but it’s not true!!!” It’s not true now, but it could be true. It really is the audacity of hope. (Thank you President Obama). My audacious hope is to rewrite the overused narratives of my life. It sounds easy and beautiful, but the reality means delving into the trenches of my own dirty thoughts and wrestling them into submission. I am not always a reliable narrator of my own life but perhaps a small rewrite will provide me with a new, fresh, and imaginative take on my own story, which may lead to … who knows where.