We tell the stories of our lives to remember, laugh, and ponder where we have been and where we are going. We learn from each other, grow, and try not to make the same mistakes. Stories enrich us. We hear how someone else moves about the world, how they interact with their family and friends, and how they endure the good times and the bad. We laugh with them, we cry with them, and we relate in ways we sometimes cannot imagine.
I just finished reading: “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother” by Julia Sweeney. If you are not familiar with Julia, she was “It’s Pat” on Saturday Night Live. Her book is a memoir and heavily focuses on her experience adopting a daughter from China. She is a blunt and humorous writer. I appreciated reading her book. It is just raw, real, and to the point. Her comments about telling stories resonated with me:
“I think my urge to perform, and specifically to perform true stories from my own life, is my way of coping. Just like alcohol is for some people. But the storytelling urge is not particular to the Irish. It’s in everyone. In fact it’s how our brains, every single one of our brains–not particular to any ethnicity–makes sense of the world. We tell ourselves how it all went, how this happened and how that happened and how it could happen in the future.” page 238
Is that what storytelling is for each of us? A litany of events, dates, and experiences that we tell as we make sense of the world? Yes, and so much more. I often write to make sense of my world. As the words come out of my fingertips I often connect thoughts and ideas and have aha moments. I realize what bothers me, find solutions to problems, and feel gratitude for the good parts of my day.
For me looking back at my past, at the stories of my life, help me to better understand myself and how I tick. Since both of my parents have passed on, and my grandparents are gone, I am on my own to put the pieces of my past together. I have asked my sister or brother how they remember an event, and yet their memory is much different from my memory of a specific event. That makes sense, as we each look out from our own perspectives. Since I cannot call my mom up and ask her about my first words, or how I handled a specific event in my life, I have to rely on my own memories. They may be flawed or off from the actual details but in the end, it is still the story I remember that has molded me into who I am today. As biased as my perspective might be, the feelings I had in each experience shaped how I handled future events.
Our story, our view on the world, is how we make sense and process who we are. Keep telling your story.
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