One of the most memorable moments that I have from my years in grade school was a time when we had a Native American story teller come speak at one of our assemblies. At the outset of his talk, he made the point that we are all story tellers in our own different ways. That is to say, we all have a story to tell, a story that we live by, a story that brings the big picture of our lives together and makes sense of the things that we see and face.
As I think back to that talk, I notice more than ever, how precise that observation is. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all live life as we see it through a certain set of interconnected ideas and principles which follow the basic structure of a story. We all look at life and see some sort of beginning, reason or cause to life. Additionally, everyone (at least everyone that I have met) agrees that there is something wrong with the world. We all face challenges and antagonists in life, and we all see a solution or answer to which we strive.
Written stories, myths, novels and the like are simply projections of our inner lives. The reason that they have all their basic components is because that is how we function as people. No one writes a story about a character who encounters a problem and ends it at that because that is now how we live life. A word commonly used to describe this is the word ‘worldview’, which speaks of the perspective through which we approach and make sense of everything we face. Absolutely everything we do in life is dictated by the worldview to which we hold. We cannot make sense of anything without first putting it into a certain context of principles and ideas; i.e. our story.
What is also interesting is that most of us are doing this unconsciously. Most people just kinda go through life and take it as it comes without giving a constant consideration to how their experiences relate to their overall view of the story of life. As a result, we develop numerous gaps and inconsistencies in our stories. There are areas in our worldview which we may have given a lot of thought to, and can defend well, which then don’t connect at all to other areas that we have not thought about much. The more passive we are about life, the more inconsistencies we will tend to have in our worldview.
Sometimes people simply don’t like to think about their story. Ignorance is bliss. The less we think about it, the less we are bothered by our inconsistencies. Sounds stupid, but also appealing. These people live with a very diluted perspective on joy and life.
What is the story that defines your life? What is the basis of this story? Are you sure about it? Are you prepared to stake your life on it?