Thursday, Jul 14, 2016
Today I am unable to talk about my trips to the farmer’s market, or about the woman who weaves baskets, the food I ate, or the pigeons in the square.
More tragedy across our globe. Reports of death and violence are becoming the daily norm and not the exception to our collective experience of life. Something big is a foot.
It has been said by people much more intelligent than me that meaning for anything is a result of the story we tell ourselves. This seems true to me. If I am cut off in traffic by another driver, my actual physical reaction can be quite different solely from the story I tell myself.
If I say that the driver is an ignorant, self-absorbed, arrogant ass caring only about himself, I feel quite differently than if I say he has an emergency at home and it’s critical he get there quickly. Two different stories for the same action, but two entirely different physical responses on my part.
A story is simply how I am choosing to make meaning of the world around me. The problem with stories is that we can operate within them for so long they become fact, or truth to us. Stories don’t go hand in hand with “the truth”. When we collectively believed the world was flat, we lived in a story that sailing too close to the edge meant falling into the oblivion. That was our collective truth…until it wasn’t.
Our collective story is beginning to unravel. As I listen and learn, I believe it’s cause is a from a collective story we live in that “we are separate”. A collective story that we are not connected to our environment, our cosmos, and to each other is beginning to be punctured by consequences of living in that meaning.
We are not islands; we don’t live in a bubble. We are affected by one another and to deny this increases our collective suffering. Black, white, gay, straight, christian, muslim, republican, democrat, democracy, communism, industrialism, environmentalism, social welfare, corporate greed, haves and have-nots…we are all in this together.
Each person in any of these labels carries a story that helps create “truth” in his world. What would your story be if you were born in Eastern and not Western culture? In the ghetto and not an upper middle class neighborhood? Seriously, be fucking honest with yourself. What story would you be holding dear if you were born and raised in a different scenario? Is it then “truth”?
Each one of our stories is giving meaning to the events of our times. Our stories are part of a collective, historical story made from our culture, our geography, our economy, our religion, our institutions. It is only a story.
I need meaning in my life; I need to understand and make sense of the world around me. I use my stories to help me do this. I am not unique. I get fearful looking at what is happening to the country I was born in, to see what is happening in countries around the world. I get fearful at the thought of an unraveling of our collective story. Then what?
My answer is, “I don’t know”. I don’t know what the new story will be as we live together on this planet. I believe for it to be humane, for it to be peaceful, it will have to acknowledge our connection to each other, everyone here, and to the environment we all share for it to be a sustainable story.
I had an “a-ha” moment the other day. My fear about the unraveling of our collective story is only just one more of my own stories. I am the one giving meaning to my fear, giving meaning to a prospect of losing what I know and understand. My story has no more “truth” to it than any other story I can hold.
The reality is, when we recognize we live within a story to make meaning of things…we can choose to change our story. When we can change our story, we can change what we see; then we can change our situation. Right now our world needs a new collective story and we need leaders able to change their own stories to help this process along.
I believe that. And I also recognize on a practical level it feels like there isn’t a lot I can do…except this. I can choose NOT to live in a story of fear for my future. I can choose to increase my connections with others, especially people different from me, to expand my understanding and view of the world I share. I can choose to spend more time connecting with the mysteries of life through contact with nature, meditation, and soul-awareness.
As my understanding grows, so my story changes, allowing me more possibilities to contribute, and become part of the solution. We can all make choices necessary to create a story that will help change our individual situations, moving us from fear to hope, from suspicion to compassion, from hate to understanding. The more of us who will do this, then the more promising our collective experience and new story will be.