Thursday, June 13

life, exactly how it is

This week I've been meditating on the concepts of 'narrative' and 'story'.  And I'm finding myself changed.  I will be the first to admit that I'm prone to hyperbole, but I quite literally mean that I am changed.  I'm seeing with a clarity and understanding I've not experienced for some time.

For the first time in my life I am acutely aware of the truckloads and truckloads of stories and narratives that are told to me every single day of my life.  They come in all shapes and all colors and all textures: television shows, news reports, childrens' books, novels, gossip, songs, magazines, blogs, cereal boxes, telephone calls...
Early this week I had the simple but world-rocking realization that these are all stories.  But they are not necessarily my story.  And yet daily, hourly, even by the minute, I absorb them as my own.  Way too often I accept the stereotypes and generalizations and assumptions that are inherent in any-old-story directed at me.  And at night when I lay down in my bed I have to sort through the cacophony of voices and stories bouncing around between these two ears:  'pesky protestors shot', 'woman raped', 'fat people lazy', 'breastfed children happier', 'beautiful person successful', 'literate people smarter', 'home-schooled people weird', 'global disaster imminent'.

Oh, that list is short and scattered and weird.  But do you know what I mean?  These are someone else's interpretations and conclusions based on their vantage point.  Another person's voice.  But the problem is that these voices are so very prevalent in my everyday existence- I'm so busy listening to everyone else- that through it all I have lost my own voice.  And it's not just me.  I think most of the people I know have become subjects in someone else's narrative, instead of the protagonist of their own.
The result in my own life is the sad reality that often I lack (or don't even know how to cultivate) the creativity to imagine and see my life exactly how it is.

It's a lot like looking at my own bare breasts and thinking they look gross and wrong when compared to the images of surgically sculpted and digitally enhanced breasts that someone else tries to tell me are the true reflection of reality.  What????!  No matter how lopsided and mismatched they are, my breasts are my reality.  They are my truth.  Thanks but no thanks for the suggestion, some dude in some office in some other place.

Oh dear.  I fear that I am going in too many directions with all of this, but do you follow me?

Even in the places where I connect with other people I admire and respect (such as this strange and wonderful world of blogging), I find myself taking another person's reality as a template for my own life.  These are beautiful and inspiring women who create with their hands and parent gently and take solace in the natural world around them, and yet I find myself wanting to fit myself into their personal narrative that they tell.  I begin to want to wear what they wear, bake what they bake, live where they live, parent the same number of children they parent, listen to the same music they love.  Perhaps each of these things is lovely and wonderful and life-giving, and that's not the problem!  

The problem is that but adhering to an outside image of what my life should be, I fail to see myself as real, or respect my self/body/family/friends exactly how they are.  My life is not something to squish into some template.  It organic and alive and wonderful.  And I want to know that- I want to see that with clarity- as often as is humanly possible.
In fact I want that for all of us.  Because I honestly think we are richer people for having heard one another and for having heard ourselves.  Such creativity and power to be shared.

How do you, my friends, turn off the voices so that you can hear and recognize your own inner voice?  What ways have you chosen to unplug or to turn off screens or to find ways to sit with yourself?

So much love.

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