This past Friday, March 20th, marked the Spring Equinox. Did you know it was also World Storytelling Day? The theme of storytelling seems to be weaving through my life right now, coming at me from many directions. When that happens, I know it’s time to pay attention.
We’re all storytellers, you know. That’s how we create our lives. It’s hard to tell, sometimes, which came first: the events of our lives or the stories we tell about them. They share a kind of symbiosis, feeding off of each other, evolving together. The stories we tell shape not only our present and future, but can reshape the past as well. The stories we tell change us. I know this has been true for me in the telling of my story in The Deep Water Leaf Society. My shift in perspective, which slowly unfolds during the course of the book, reframed a tragic loss as a gift beyond measure.
We tell stories about who we are at the individual level as well as at the tribal and global levels. Those tribal and global stories shape our nations and our world. They shape the evolutionary direction of our species as a whole. Many of our stories come from religion and many others come from science. Every one of those stories influences how we feel about ourselves and the world. Some stories divide and some stories unite. Some stories victimize and some stories empower.
The story of “The War on Terror,” for instance, creates fear and divides us. The story of “The Economic Meltdown” creates fear and victimhood. The story of “Landing on the Moon and Looking Back at Ourselves” empowered and created a new sense of one-world unity for a time, until we forgot that our planet has no borders except those we create in our minds and our stories.
I’ve been reading don Miguel Ruiz’s The Voice of Knowledge. He begins with a story about Adam and Eve in the Garden way back in the day. It’s a different twist on what happened and what the consequences were for eating from the Tree of Knowledge. The snake in that tree was The Prince of Lies and what we swallowed, and what grows in us to this day, is knowledge polluted by lies: the lies we were told as we grew up, the lies we now tell ourselves and the lies we pass on to our children. These lies tell us there is not enough and that we are not enough. These are the lies of judgment that cause us to look at any person, place, thing or situation and judge it as “good” or “bad.” Before we ate the lies, we couldn’t make that distinction. Nothing was good or bad, it just was.
There’s an old Chinese story about a young man who lost his horse. The villagers said, “Oh, such bad news.” The lad’s father said, “Maybe bad, maybe good.” The next day the young man’s horse came home with an entire heard of wild horses following him. The villagers rejoiced, saying “Oh, such good fortune!” The lad’s father said, “Maybe good, maybe bad.” The next day, the boy tried to break one of the wild horses for riding. He was thrown and broke his leg so badly that he would be crippled for life. “Oh, such bad luck,” said the villagers. “Maybe bad, maybe good,” said the father. The next day, the Chinese army came and took every able-bodied son off to war. The crippled young man was spared.
The point is, events in our lives are not in and of themselves good or bad. It is our perception of them and the story we tell about them that makes them good or bad. It’s all a story, so why not pick a good one?
I recently watched a Barbara Marx Hubbard film called Humanity Ascending. Hubbard says, “The nature of nature is to transform. Crises precede transformation and problems are evolutionary drivers.” This film addresses at the macro, global, humanity-wide level what I experienced at the micro, personal, individual level: breakdown leads to breakthrough. Losing my son pushed me to grow into my next higher level of expression. Our current global crises—overpopulation, diminishing resources, economic meltdown, global warming—are exactly the conditions that can spark the next turn in the spiral of humanity’s ongoing evolutionary growth. We can welcome crisis as the wakeup call that will help us to shape a new story. Let’s pick a good one.
As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)
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