Spinning Your Story

Last May, 2007 I wrote a post called The Stories that No Longer Serve You. This week, Andrea Hess began a great conversation at Empowered Soul -- What is Your Story? Read her original post and the discussion taking place in the comments. I'd like to continue my thoughts on the difference between Your Story/Your Identity and the details, events, and plot-line "ingredients" of your life.

A time-line of details, or the conflict of events, is only a small part of a story. Consider Patricia's articles about abuse -- it's not your fault if you are victimized (an event). You can't choose what external forces invade your life; you can't control the actions of other people.

So what do you do with a story of abuse? What do you do with a story of disease or some other tragic hardship?

Spin You do what any good storyteller, journalist, writer, or filmmaker does -- you choose the energy of a story that transcends the details. There's not a single person on the planet who doesn't have all the necessary ingredients for tragedy. But look at the recipe for Stories of Survivors -- the details, the actions, the events -- the elements that make up the story of a Victim are the same raw materials that you can use to tell the story of a Survivor.

The perspective works like a filter through which you view and re-make what you can't control -- this the part you do have control over.

Stream of Consciousness Early 20th Century British novelists like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce invented the literary device we know today as stream of consciousness. In books like Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses, these writers explored the multiple layers of Mind that transcend the details and events of common experience. They illustrated the personal, internal, near-infinite universe of thought that defies time and plot-lines. Novels like these two in particular contrast the extremes between the mundane "day in the life" moments taking place in the external physical reality and the internal, timeless reality of the mind and spirit.

Stream of consciousness invites you to contemplate What is Real? What is True? Is your Story that you did the dishes at 3:30pm, or that while you did the dishes you internally dramatized the argument you had with your spouse the night before and explored the possibilities of where the argument came from, what it means, how it might continue or be resolved…?

Is this a story of a woman doing the dishes, or a deeper transcendent story of a woman coming to terms with dramatic behavior patterns in her relationships? Perhaps that brief moment when she rubs the lipstick from the rim of a coffee cup is also the moment of epiphany from which all the relationships she's had with all the men in her life suddenly makes sense…

I'd like to use Michael Howard's example (from his comment on Adrea's post) to illustrate the difference between your Story/your Identity and the Events/Plot-line.

Michael's comment, repeated here:

What is my story, if I could not include the past? What is my story if the first page had to be today? Alright Slade here goes: I woke up and fed the cat and gave him lots of love and good food, he was happy. I made coffee, did the dishes and checked my blogs and e-mail. My daughter woke up and I told her I loved her and brought her to her mom who I also said I love you to and brought her coffee, she was happy, we watched the morning news. I went to work, pruned a bunch of cherry trees and hurt my elbow which was extremely painful and I cursed several times out loud unfortunately. I finished work, got bogged down in traffic and thought about blogging and several business ventures on the way home. I ate dinner with my family, tried to ease the pain in my elbow and neck and had a decompression talk with my wife and whola..here I am, that’s my story!

My Spin on Michael's Story For me, these are details, events, the pieces of a story; viewed from a higher perspective, there are powerful ingredients for a story of great joy. Michael's story is the Story of a Father, a nurturer, a care-taker. This is also the Story of a creative writer, an inventor, an entrepreneur, who transforms the traffic of his commute into a Studio of the Mind.

How do you spin your story? Who are you? Are you the ingredients of your daily life, or the free spirit, flying like a kite, merely tethered to those little moments on the ground? Are you the stick wound up with string in the fists of a child, or are you the colorful silk and streamers riding the sky?

Seek Wisdom, Practice Love, Spin Your Story Slade's signature