I was thinking about the thousand different ways to wear a story this past week, as I celebrated one of my favorite collections of holidays: Groundhog Day/Imbolc and Candlemas. Lighting my rose candle in a bowl of water, purifying my thoughts, I reflected on the stories that have been written by the gods specifically for me to wear in this lifetime. How do I wear my stories? I strive to wear even the most challenging stories with equanimity. I often wear my stories with joy. I sometimes (more often than i like to admit) wear my stories as if they are a heavy wet wool coat, dampening my soul and spirit and adding weight to my body.
Sometimes I trade in my stories at the used story store for a different story coat. It can and does change my perspective. But like me changing my hair color, my story roots eventually always come through. I’ve learned that being free isn’t about denying or cutting myself off from my stories. Being free is also about wearing my stories and the responsibility I have to my stories and to my karma. How I choose to relate and respond to them is an act of magic. Right?
One of the greatest human tragedies I see in the world today
is the inability to face our life stories responsibly. Or directly. A memory popped up on my Facebook page about Story Ghosts, which I had written after the death of one of my favorite story actors –Philip Seymour Hoffman –a sensitive soul who delved into some of the darker shadows of the psyche in order to dramatize the human condition. We didn’t know the full breadth of stories that were eating him which caused him to battle addictions. I’d like to believe that he and his story ghosts have now rest in peace, and that whatever stories ate him then, will now be something for him to face in between lifetimes –without the addictions to avoid them. Perhaps each one faced now emerging from the cold hard earth as an unassuming crocus, exposing its firebird colored pollen in his honor. May we all have the courage –in this life and the next, to face our own stories —ghosts, shadows, forgotten and fragmented. bravely, fiercely, directly.
One of the great lies of addiction –whether it is addiction to substances, sex, materialism or choose your own demon, is the experience that through the addiction, stories can be numbed, quieted, cut off, covered, killed, and/or stopped.
We cannot kill our stories. We cannot stop them from rooting through us. Can I be blunt? If we keep trying to kill our stories, we are causing self harm –and we can actually die. Or at the very least, destroy an aspect of ourselves that is essential to our beautiful, messy humanity. Our stories –great and small –tragic and beautiful –messy and immense, will always always always be a part of us. And this is part of the beautiful mess of being human. If we strive to be conscious gardeners of our stories, we can expect to grow new shoots of our humanity which blossom into new flowers, and new fruits which nourish and sustain us and our communities. Our stories can have natural deaths, as the trees drop their leaves in the fall only to spring new buds and leaves in spring. In that, is the secret of resurrection. Death consciousness dies and life consciousness is born.
There are billions of humans on this planet, and each of us has at least hundreds of stories -many of these stories are stepping stones to our becoming –even the messiest, most tragic stories at the bottom of the pit.
How do you wear your life stories?
Your life stories have shaped you into who you are and who you are becoming. Because of and despite the Beautiful Mess of stories bubbling, steaming, distilling, and changing inside your story cauldron.
You are alchemy (transformation) in the making. From the compost to the lotus. So in a long and round about way this brings me to a small but true truth: Writing heals. Writing personal life stories naturally prunes and weeds old stories. It generates a compost that doesn’t make us feel putrid and miserable –it uses that compost to generate new growth. It transforms the old into something new. A new relationship to self, to identity, to community, to world, to Soul, Spirit and the Universe. Ancient scribes knew that ‘to write’ was a form of magic. How else but to create the world?
In writing your personal life stories and spiritual autobiography, you are literally re-creating and re-imaginging your personal universe/world.
It is magic. Simply put: Writing the past RIGHTS it.
Editing your life stories creates happy endings. You may never jump up and down screaming, ‘Yay to my suffering!’ But you may just stop seeing yourself as the victim in the story or you may resurrect some deeper truth or inner virtue that you never knew you possessed because you are no longer possessed by the story.
Editing your Life Stories can Create Happier Endings
Even if you struggle today with the ghosts of tragic personal stories (and you are NOT weak if you struggle with your stories!) you still can do the work of the wounded healer and navigate your way through hell to heaven and back to the center of your being by rewriting your story.
So…why not set aside a 9 week personal life story adventure navigating the personal, spiritual and mythic stories that were woven by the gods for you to wear.
Transforming your life by writing your personal universe of stories is one of the truest forms of alchemy that I know. It’s real. It’s accessible. It isn’t woo-wooey and a bunch of hooey. It really works. I know, because I have experienced it and have witnessed it in other story spelunkers.And THAT is something to jump up and down and celebrate!
Yay! Thank you Universe for the gift of story in every human HIStory and HERstory.
Keep on navigating that beautiful mess…Lovingly,