[Archives] Life as an act of storytelling

Our Wild Sense Of Self

[All ‘Archives’ posts are posts I wrote long ago, posted all around the web, and that I decided to group here as keepsakes ]


…because sometimes life happens and you can only go with the flow;  I write here once again, but later than I expected. Throughout the last few weeks, an idea have taken its dwellings upon my thoughts, and I’ve been playing around with it since.

What if…our life was just a big act of storytelling ?

And what I mean by that is… What if, ultimately, what has the most impact on our life are the stories we tell ourselves?

‘What stories ?’, you wonder. ‘You do not tell yourself any stories’, I hear you say.

First, let me clarify something, I do not say ‘story’ as to imply a lack of truth [even if truth itself is another subject one could wonder about all day] or as a ‘fictitious tale’; but as a ‘narrative’: ‘a story or accounts of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious’ [ Thanks to the dictionary for that one !].

Think about it, it’s very  [veryyyy] rare that we’ll only relate to the present moment, without bringing any  thoughts based on what happened before with us, right? You bring your understanding of the world and what happened to you in the past along with you. These are the stories you bring to the table, to then be able to integrate this new event. And once again, I say this with the uttermost respect for stories. Furthermore, it’s often only after the event, thinking back about it, that it will make sense; thanks to the meaning we’ll apply to it. The act of applying meanings to an event, isn’t this an act of storytelling? By doing so, we place this event into our own tapestry of understandings and integrate it to the personal narrative that is our life.

We all have our differing view of the Universe, of our place into it, of who we are – these primordial stories are often the starting point of our understandings and how we perceive and live our life.  It will cause us, for example, in a conversation to agree on many points and yet have two very different conclusions – because the building blocks we used to build our understanding were not the same.  It will cause people to have the exact same event happen to them and yet, because of the meaning they apply to this event and how they place it in their personal narrative- and this meaning is governed by the primordial stories that constitute us-,  react differently to it.

Dare I say that Humans are being of storytelling? That religions and culture have this very common root; to build and share a common narrative? That maybe our languages along with our fascination with literature and art are just proofs that we need, as humans, to share stories and meaning?

Now, where do these stories come from? I personally think that we pick them through the culture and thoughts we are exposed to. Through reflections we might expand our own narrative- often time by being exposed to new ingredients to add to our own narrative mix, we’ll then create something new. And as not two people are exposed to all the same ‘ingredients’ to build their ‘narrative mixes’, we all end up with very different narratives to work with.

Now, could this realization, that our truth -the stories we tell ourselves- is just one of many, be something to fear? Is it scary to realize that our narratives – the rules through which we function, see the world and react to the world -are very unique to ourselves? Could it be overwhelming that, in a way, the very reality we perceive – as we use our own interiority and hence narratives to relate to the outside world we call reality- is perceived uniquely by all? [Because you won’t convince me that any two people have the Exact same narratives; it can be very highly similar, but carbon-copy alike, I highly doubt it-but this is just my very own narrative of this subject of course]. I don’t know… I find it mainly empowering.

‘If we pick up our narratives from what surrounds us; we’re not free to choose our narratives then! How can THAT be empowering !’,  I hear you say.
Yes, I do not know if a thought can be born in a vacuum; and I won’t say that we’re not influenced by our surroundings… The way I see it though, is that these are the materials we are given. Empowerment can come from the freedom we have to use these materials however we wish to create the building blocks that are our fundamentals truths/stories; that we’ll then use to build our personal narratives – our life, or how we react and feel toward our life and the events that happen to us at least [because, does an event really have any power before we apply any story/ meaning to it ?]. It’s like being given a box of colored pencils and a white page. You can give the same box of colored pencils to many and not two will create the exact same drawing. There, is the freedom. There, is the empowerment.  Now, do I say that we’re all given the same box of colored pencils in this life ? No. For sure, circumstances of each and every one differ, and we do not all start with the same materials to create our personal narratives.

Something I find highly empowering too, is that these stories are not fixed and immutable…
By shifting our core narratives, our whole perspective on life and how we react to it shifts too. We can oftentimes identify the stories that no longer serve us and let them go.

Now, people usually get angry or dismiss this perspective because it sounds too easy : ‘If it was THAT easy to change our perspectives and to hence change our life, why wouldn’t we all do it !!!’
It sounds simple, maybe…but may I remind you that these primary stories are the building blocks of your life, and of yourself ?These stories are how you perceive yourself, and your place in the bigger story [because hey, stories are not individual ones only ! Even if we all have personal stories, they all get placed into the bigger narratives we write as communities, or as Humans – and both individual stories and shared narratives influences each others in my opinion, how amazing is that! ]. So, to shift your personal narratives, your beliefs, may sound easy… but it basically asks you to let go of a part of your understanding of self- to let a part of your story die [a little Ego-Death anyone ?!?].  It basically asks you to destroy yourself -your understanding of self at least- and rebuild it. So while the concept sounds easy, I do not believe it to be such an easy undertaking.[Added to that…maybe sometimes we do not really wish to come face to face with some of our core narratives…]. It might not be that pain-free for the phoenix to burn; even if it knows it’ll lead to rebirth.

By realizing that we all have our different personal narratives, we realize that we have Choices. Maybe many narratives can makes sense? And that the real creative power [Anyway can’t Life be perceived as a magnificent act of creative endeavor where we weave our masterpiece through each breathes ?] lies in choosing which one we decide to keep and work with.

Now another problem that may arise from this perception would be in regard to truth- if we all have our own perceptions of reality, doesn’t it negate the very concept of truth?
I don’t know. Maybe we all see different angles of the Same Ultimate Truth? Maybe Truth would anyway be filtered through our own perceptions and human lenses?
But this is another subject.

And there’s so much to say on this subject still…I’ll surely write more about this at a later time, but this is it for now. I would gladly listen to your thoughts on this subject if you feel inspired to share.

Picture : ‘Our wild sense of self 2’ – Part 2 of a 3 part mixed media  series  for ‘Les Fleurs de la Mer’ [Art Workshop & collective art exhibition ] – 2015

Ps : A pretty cool piece of writing on this subject :

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