The Power of Story

by Christopher Lovejoy on March 11, 2012

Out of the pungent soils of resistance to having and getting what we most need and want arise kaleidoscopes of longings and yearnings that make our hearts ache and bulge …

This is truth.

… and the everpresent bane of conditioning that keeps everyone locked in place perpetuates these longings and yearnings until hearts break and burst open with dramatic effect.

This, too, is truth.

But as the saying goes, hope springs eternal, as we continue to renew the stories of our lives.

My life is not unlike a story, but to what extent am I a character and to what degree am I the author?

Certainly I am a character, immersed in a seemingly endless stream of events that runs, steady or uneven, slowly or swiftly, through a vast current, from past to present to future.

But as a character in my own play of reality, am I not also willing to be the author of my own story?

Am I not also willing to ask and entertain: in what way and by what means would my story make me believe that I’m someone of significance and consequence, if only to myself?

Perhaps my most fervent wish is to live the story of love, or the story of progress, or maybe I yearn to live a story that embodies and expresses innocence, freedom, or fulfillment.

Perhaps I live the story of the orphan or the outsider. Am I the lover in my story? The warrior? Am I a martyr? A magician? What is the story by which I live, love, learn, and laugh?

Which story calls to me now? What does it look like and how does it feel to me in everyday life? How would I like it to play out for me and for those with whom I feel connected?

If those who do science and technology are concerned with truth, then perhaps those of us who live to love to learn from their stories are concerned with what is even more true.

Could I give myself permission to welcome the benefits of a narrative even as I continue to read and write the story of my life – the one I feel most called to live, day after day?

Giving Voice to Longings and Yearnings

Before I even craft or tweak a narrative for the story of my life, I like to do myself the favor of giving voice to any longings of the soul or yearnings of the spirit that seek the light of day.

Giving voice is not an exercise that I can do once and for all; it’s a lifelong commitment that welcomes ongoing resistance to life and love, keeping me in touch with my true needs and desires.

I start here, with just one response to any of these stems to ignite my interest (which of these draw you the most now?), and go from there, until my interest is fueled towards completion:

  • I long to be someone who …
  • I long to be in a place where …
  • I long to be with someone who …
  • I yearn to have … so that I can …
  • I yearn to … so that I can have …

If I resist doing this exercise, then this just might mean I’m in the flow, feeling good about life, or it might mean I’m reluctant to face charged emotional material lurking in the depths.

If fear or discomfort is present, I sit with the sensations, allowing the heart of my soul to receive them, facing whatever comes up, until the fear or discomfort is discharged and released.

And if I’m feeling too weary to care, then I simply give myself rest: I relax, receive, release, refresh, renew, and restore my soul back to a place where I can be open to caring once again.

A Day in the Life: My Ideal Day, My Perfect Day, My Best Day Ever

Storytelling is but one art form for manifesting a desired experience of reality.

Scrapbooking and visionboarding are two others. You might also sketch, paint, sculpt, or photoshop your way into a new lease on life (it’s amazing what you can do when you put your heart into it).

But here I’ll proceed with the promise of storytelling.

Different motives exist for why you might write the story of your life – healing, wholeness, peace of mind – but my intent here is to encourage the manifestation of desired results.

Inside an elegantly furnished and decorated bedroom, on a warm and cozy bed under an oversized, fluffy white comforter, I awaken after a restful, refreshing sleep, feeling charmed and blessed by a life that at one time I could only dream about. I lie here at peace, in love, and count my blessings: …

What are your blessings?

True, the passage above might be too rich for your tastes or sensibilities, in which case, I invite you to modify or tweak it until it resonates intimately inside the heart of your soul.

Repeatedly charged and fueled by positive emotion and desire, a narrative can work magic in your life as a centrally integrating polestar for your everyday encounters and experiences.

A narrative gives you a magnet for desired and desirable results and outcomes, which attract hearty possibilities, exposing points of resistance and moving you in favorable directions.

A narrative gets you thinking about your day: do I really want this? Do I really want to spend time on this? Do I really want to do this with this person? Am I really acting in my own best interests?

Your best interests might include helping others, exploring the world, contributing to the world in a meaningful way, finding time for yourself, or restoring your health, fitness, or vitality.

With these possibilities in mind, how might you go about writing the story of your life?

First, what is your ideal stance of authorship?

Are you writing from the point of view of someone who is five, ten, or twenty years older and wiser than you are now? Of someone who inhabits an ideal world and who claims to be your ideal self? Of someone who has everything you desire and who resides in a parallel universe or an alternate reality?

Second, are you a conceiver or a perceiver?

Do you seek and find closure much or most of the time? Or do you have a strong tendency to remain open and receptive to a colorful, ongoing stream of experiences?

If you seek closure, you’ll be fairly precise in how you craft a narrative for a day in your life. If you stay open to experience, you’ll craft a picture of your day of fulfillment in broad brushstrokes.

If you’re a perceiver, you’ll likely pour your heart out on screen in the most visceral way possible.

If you’re a conceiver, you’ll locate, even construct, a narrative structure by which to guide the course of your writing, going so far as to set a timer to give you a satisfying sense of closure.

And if you’re fortunate to be equally conceiving and perceiving, you can experiment with both.

My ideal day, my perfect day, my best day ever: you need not apply any of these terms to your own life. If they rub you the wrong way, then go with this: just another day in paradise.

Or with this heartfelt admission, delivered by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame in a speech to Harvard graduates in 2008, summing up the days of her life when she lived on benefits in Edinburgh:

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

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This post is the seventh in a series that began here.

A quick announcement: In the wake of publishing Be Here Now, I’ve updated the following pages on this site: the Home page, the About page, and the Contact page.

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