Writing A Good Story

When my kids were young we played a game called squiggle. I would draw a line or squiggle on a paper and give it to them and they had to finish and create something out of it with their own lines using what I started with. I have learned that’s very much what I am like when I have an experience or interaction with any human being. When someone says or does something in my direction it’s as though they’ve handed my a squiggle and said “now do something with it.” I know that’s not always the truth but I have certainly made it truth for most of my life.
Take an experience, any experience will do. My mind can take any incident and turn it into a story within minutes or seconds because I make it mean something. For example my husband was saying a prayer on our meal the other day and he was blessing me and hesitated before he said my name. What did I do with that? I asked if he forgot my name. It is very easy to come up with a story because it validates our feelings and makes us right.
There is a cost we pay in living in these stories. We lose connectedness with the one we made up something about. If I am determined that my story be right I can be sure the person I made it up about will feel blamed and pull away. Think of an incident in your life recently of something that happened that you created a good story about. I was driving the other day when a man honked at me. I immediately thought: “what did I do wrong? Is he mad at me, why did he honk? How rude I didn’t even do anything. I am not going to look his direction or I might honk back or give him a dirty look.” The other side of that story could be he was honking at another car, maybe he knows me, maybe my gas tank lid is off or he was warning me. There are multiple stories that could be written about a horn honk when all it was , was a horn honking.
Everyone is an author, the one and only author of their life. Now it is time to choose. Do we want to be the author of stories we make up or do we want to live the real life, by naming what happened and stop? My husband hesitated before he said my name, the man honked his horn, that’s it. What could our minds do with so much space and clarity if it’s not always making up stories about an incident? For me it is like having a clean slate to be creative, to let myself love and be loved without agendas.
I am grateful for my stories, they teach me and give me things to laugh and cry about. They have also brought me a great deal of unnecessary suffering. When something happens in life that’s painful (and it will) we feel pain. The extreme, lengthy suffering from the experience comes from the meaning we place on it. Next time an incident happens in your life (which is daily), stop, name it and move on without writing a novel about it. Acknowledge yourself for your clarity and move forward. Now it’s time to write your story truth or suffering?