Above is my watercolor sketch of a beautiful bouquet of flowers given to me by friends to celebrate my Open Studio day on April 1, 2017.
Inspired by my year long online class Magic of Myth II, I have been contemplating the word “story”. Stories help us to make sense of our world. The ancient Greek myths, Buddhist Sutras, Bible, Koran, and Hindu texts such as the Upanishads, among other ancient stories, help to create explanations for the eternal question: Why am I here? These stories give significance to our existence as well as codes of behavior to create orderly societies. They can also be used to separate ourselves from others by placing value on one text over another. Some people believe that their chosen text is the “true” story, that all other narratives, and the beliefs those words symbolize are false.
Truth is often veiled in layers of illusion.
Even in our own individual lives, it may be difficult to see what is true and what is false. We tell a story of our life, colored by our thoughts, experiences, perceptions, hurts, joys, and sorrows. Each of us may tell a different account of the same event as has been shown time and again in news reports of accidents and disasters. Our perceptions greatly affect the way in which we tell our life stories.
Therefore, maybe my story isn’t what was, or is, but rather, what I choose for it to be. I can make a choice each time I talk or write about my life, my dreams, my desires. I can choose to tell my story as I want it to be, creating my story and my life as I go, rather than relying on a past trajectory that may no longer be true.
Fifteen years ago my story was of divorce and infidelity. One of hurt and broken promises. Each time I told this story, it reinforced my feelings of betrayal and victimization. At one point, I consciously stopped recounting this story, because it had kept me locked in a place of anger and pain. I choose to focus on forgiveness, for those involved and for myself. This lifted my burden and opened new opportunities in my life, not based on my old story, but a new one.
A few years ago, my story became consumed by the depression and drug abuse of my son – a sweet and sensitive soul, lost in a very dark landscape. As I lived each day in fear and panic, talking about virtually nothing else with close friends, life became dark and bleak. I did not see much meaning or purpose, but slowly moved through each day in a fog, hoping to find him help. Desperately trying to fix someone else never works. As the situation came to a head, I had to let go of all control and realize that this was not my story, but his story.
Today, a year and a half later, I am building a new story for myself. This stage of my life is unreservedly all about me. I fill my days with curiosity, wonder, and occasionally, magic. I choose to create a story infused with exploration – of the world, and of myself. How strong is my body? What is it capable of doing? Where will the exploration of my art take me? How do I want to express myself in my art? If, through meditation and yoga, I delve deeper into an understanding of my soul, of that part of me connected to everything else in the universe, what might I discover?
As part of my developing story, I chose a new name. One that, to me, symbolizes wisdom, strength, and a little mystery. Through this mystery, I am accepting that I don’t know how to accomplish everything I want to do right now, but that I will figure things out as I go along. I am learning to embrace uncertainty and be open to the revelations that my explorations uncover. I am working, in partnership with the Universe, to create the next chapter of my story – one based in awareness, intention, and compassion, and filled with joy, inquisitiveness, and lightness of heart. Realistically, I acknowledge that I will have moments of frustration and confusion, but, with persistence these will pass. So far, joy and hope are winning out over my old friends fear and pessimism!
My new story involves many adventures, new places, new people, a little comedy, not much drama, maybe a little romance. Stay tuned……
PS – Forcing my son to take control of his own story turned out to be a good decision. He made a courageous choice, worked very hard, and is now living a sober and happy life on his own. I am beyond grateful for all the people who helped him, including my friends who not too gently nudged me to make the hardest decision of my life.