What’s Your Story
What’s Your Story
Imagine if you will that you that you sprang from your mother’s womb, fully endowed with the ability to write. And if you’re willing to stretch reality that far, push it just a tad further and imagine you had the willpower to sit down and enter a page in your journal every day of your life. Each page to the left of the present would represent a tiny immutable increment of your lifespan – filled with scribblings, doodles and maybe even pasted-in mementos that betoken not just your actions but your deepest thoughts as well. Together, they would comprise the totality of your experience from birth to present.
Some pages might be messy, even tear-stained with tales of overbearing siblings, schoolhouse bullies, unrequited love, lost treasures, and even the death of a loved one. Those are the pages you’d skip over when reviewing your life. Maybe those dark pages would even contain memories of things you’d prefer to forget like the day you got caught shoplifting a candy bar or the time you shot your neighbor’s dog with a BB gun. Perchance even, that spouse you cheated on. Those are the pages you’re tempted to go back and rewrite but, alas, our past is scribed in indelible ink and we’re each saddled with our own irreconcilable deeds.
Other pages, dog-eared ones you return to often, contain good times – that day you first conquered the skill of riding a bike, or that prank you pulled on an older cousin, or that first kiss. We all love to relive those days, even allowing our memories to exaggerate the joy we felt. Those are “the good old days” we share with new acquaintances or with old friends in a contest of competitive listening and almost always over beer or wine.
Then there are those glorious pages to the right – clean, crisp, unmarred pages of our life to come, not yet written but still filled with hope of tomorrow and dreams of things to be. Maybe you can’t wait for sunset each day and the opportunity to tattoo those pages with your latest achievements and triumphs. On the other hand, you may dread the task of documenting a life you’re less than enamored with. When that hour of composition arrives, you’d rather spend it rereading those dog-eared accounts of better days. Either way, the future pages of our lives are still pristine, yet to be etched in history.
Perhaps you’re concerned with those pages to the right and just how few of them you’ll have opportunity to fill before the time bell rings. Maybe even, you’ve come to the realization that every page could be your last and you want to make the story on that page as fulfilling as it can possibly be. That’s not a bad choice no matter how few or many pages you’ve already penned.
No Story is an Island
You have a story. I have a story. Every human being that ever lived, now lives, or ever will live, has a story. If we could read those stories in a single sitting, from beginning to end, we’d notice one thing — everything is an interwoven progression. According to Shakespear, “The past is prologue” and the past is in the process of determining the future.
Every close call we ever experienced (whether we were aware of it or not) laid the groundwork for the continuation of our story. Every achievement we ever accomplished formed the foundation for our future confidence. And every sin we ever committed, watered the thorny vines of guilt that bound our conscience and retarded the progress that might have been recorded on those clean crisp righthand pages.
As much as our own history influences our future, the pasts of our friends, our family, our ancestors, and all of mankind, define the boundaries within which our future pages will be written. Our parents’ mores define our mores, whether by acquisition or rebellion. Our friends’ stories influence our stories. Even our loathsome enemies’ stories define that which will be omitted from our stories. Quite often, the stories of total strangers intersect our own and reposition the guard rails of our continuing life-story.
The Grand Question
Is there a means by which we lay down a silken bookmark and say, “That which is past is past and today marks a fresh start”? Is there still a way to redirect the plot? That, my friends, is a whole other story and I’d be happy to hear your take on it. Just tap that Reply button and let’s compare stories.
A special thanks to Brian Moran, Russell Duckworth, and Kevin Bullard for their editing contribution to this week’s newsletter. They remind me that the greatest asset in my life is having friends who aren’t afraid to listen to my best pitch and reply with a healthy “Bullshit”.
“Find the stories that help you comprehend the incomprehensible. Find the stories that make you stronger.”
― Eleanor Davis, How To Be Happy
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