“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain
When we drive to school, my son often says “go this way” as I back out and points to the direction opposite the way we need to go. The other day we had a couple of extra minutes so I humored him and went the way he wanted down our block – then I turned, turned and turned and we were back on our way. That little change to give him some control made him so much happier.
This little exercise reminded me of all the choices we make and as we do, how they help us narrate our own story. I also brought to mind the quote from humorist Kevin Kling “we need to rewrite our story sometimes just so we can get some sleep” that I talked about in the post I wrote for Aspiring Blog about the power of telling our own stories. I’m reblogging it here because I think there is so much goodness in remembering the power of our own stories:
I was listening to an On Being podcast where Krista Tippett was interviewing American humorist and storyteller Kevin Kling. He was born with a disabled arm and then in mid-life was in a motorcycle accident that paralyzed his other arm.
He was talking about the PTSD that came with his accident. With it came anger and inability to sleep and when it resurfaced with a vengeance years after the accident he was talking to his therapist about it.
She said that he needed to retell the story with a different ending – tell the story as if he didn’t hit the car and he reached his destination. He did that and it worked! He was able to sleep again. His takeaway was: “We need to rewrite our story sometimes just so we can get some sleep.”
That line caught me by the throat and hasn’t let go. Because it means that our bodies believe our own storytelling. It means that while I think a storyteller is someone like Kevin Kling, it is actually my own storytelling that matters most.
It means that the most influential person in my life isn’t my boss, my loved ones, a beloved actor or author, or even Oprah Winfrey – it’s me.
So I’ve pondered the stories I tell myself. The two most cataclysmic things that have happened in the past ten years of my life are when someone told me of the infidelities of my husband I’d been married to for eight years and the marriage fell apart.
Then once I was divorced, I choose to have kids on my own as a single parent. Someone said to me when my firstborn was about 6 months old, “I wish that he [my ex-husband] hadn’t wasted so much of your time.” And I replied something like, “It’s okay, that marriage and its downfall got me to meditation and where I needed to be.”
I rewrote the story of heartbreak and loss as the impetus to put me on my current path with these two beautiful children I love dearly. I believe that the Divine has used all of the past to get me where I needed to be which I genuinely believe to be true. But it is also a story that helps me be very happy where I am instead of mourning what I’ve lost.
In talking about the story he’s rewritten so that he can sleep, Kevin Kling said that of course he wakes up every morning and has to contend with the fact that his arms don’t work as a result of the fact that the accident did really happen.
Stories can’t change the circumstances of our lives, but they do change how we relate to those circumstances. Knowing this I’m carefully checking my current inventory of stories to make sure I’m telling myself the right ones!