Sometimes I’m the put-upon. Sometimes I’m the superior one. Sometimes I’m the compassionate one.
Sometimes I’m a dismal failure.
Sometimes I’m a huge success.
I tell myself all kinds of stories about myself.
But they’re just that – stories.
I’ve been pondering the subject of this post for weeks now. I briefly touched on it in my last post. But today I want to look a little closer.
You see, since that post, I’ve been observing what kinds of stories I tell myself. I have a running narrative in my head almost all of the time. Even in meditation. I do let go of the narrative at times, but typically, I’m talking with myself, interpreting what I’m feeling or seeing or hearing or tasting or smelling or doing.
A week or two ago, I had a specific incident that distinctly showed me three of my go-to narratives. Someone did something that made me have to redo some paperwork that should have already been taken care of. And I had to travel and take a good portion of a day to do it.
On my drive back – on a gorgeous fall day with some stunningly brilliant foliage – I found myself so absorbed in my stories that I was blind to what was around me.
I don’t mean that my eyes weren’t working. They were working perfectly. But I couldn’t see the vivid blue sky set against the brilliant red and yellow leaves . . . because the stories in my head overrode what my physical eyes were actually seeing at each moment.
These were my narratives.
Narrative #1: That person made my life harder and is probably out to get me. The “mistake” was probably intentional. How in the world am I going to keep this from happening again? Do I have an ally who can subvert that person? Can I subvert that person? What do I need to do?
That is my victim narrative.
Narrative #2: That person is simply incompetent. I can’t overcome lack of intelligence. So what do I need to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
That is my “I’m superior” narrative.
Narrative #3: That person is going through a hard time and was simply distracted. I should be understanding. I don’t need to blame or be angry. But what can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
That is my compassionate narrative.
Notice that every narrative has to do with control. With trying to do something to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again.
As I was driving through the beautiful scenery, I saw very little of it because these narratives, these stories were running through my mind. I’d tell myself one of them, realize I was just telling myself stories, detach from it to see the sky and trees. . . . and then go into another narrative! I must have let go of my stories 20 or 30 times in this one 45-minute drive.
That’s what’s so weird. I recognized what my mind was doing, but I could only stop it for a few seconds. I don’t think I even got up to one minute of simply driving and seeing what was all around me. The stories were too powerful.
These stories have lots of energy behind them. You know why?
Because I’ve been telling them to myself for MY WHOLE LIFE!!
Yes, I’ve told myself I’m-the-victim stories, I’m-superior stories, I’m-compassionate stories MY WHOLE LIFE.
Now here’s the kicker. . .
Are any of them true??
Even though I think that the “I’m compassionate” story is a better choice – for me and everyone I’m around – is it still just a story?
The answer has to be yes.
Who knows the “real” reason behind the incident? Doesn’t it depend on who is telling the story?
The fact is that I had to remedy the situation. No matter which story I told myself, that’s what I needed to do. And I did.
So why couldn’t I take care of it and drive home and enjoy what my eyes were seeing?
I tried. Again and again.
Maybe that’s all I can do right now. Recognize when I’m telling myself a story, let go, and be in the present of what is at that moment. And when the inevitable story starts, let go and be present again. And again. And again. And again.
Today the moment is a sunny, brisk, fall day. Vivid, clear blue sky, some brilliant fall leaves – red, orange, yellow, and some lingering green.
So right now I’ll quit telling my blog post story about my internal narrative stories – and get outside and be with what nature is sharing with me today.
Will I be telling myself stories about how I’m enjoying a fall day, about why the leaves are turning so late in the season, about how lucky I am to have time to go out on a beautiful day and be in nature?
But there will also be some no-story gaps when I just am.
Gaps when the stories stop.
Gaps when the moment is.
And when is is enough.
More than enough.