On Storytelling

I’ve been thinking about storytelling since I watched Life of Pi. (Yes, I hear the collective sigh from my former English teachers.) As several wise persons have noted, it’s not so much what happens to us in life, but our response to what happens to us, that reveals our character. And much of how we respond to what happens to us has to do with the stories that we tell ourselves, and others, about the events our lives.

If two stories have the same events, and the same ending, which is true? This is the question in Life of Pi. And the answer: the one you like better is the one that’s true.

There’s a great deal of wisdom in that observation. While we can’t go back and change the past, we can change the lens, change our focus, and thereby also change our understanding and attitude about the things that happen to us.  Our beliefs shape the world and vice versa. The world shapes us, and we also shape the world. What we see we believe. And what we believe we live, and relive, over and over.

Every problem and every difficulty, when turned around, is an opportunity to learn and grow. The question is, do we allow our challenges to dictate our attitudes? Our treatment of others? Our goals and aspirations?

Often we get comfortable with familiar stories. Stock characters. Stories of good and evil. But real life is rarely so black and white. We all have within us capacity for great kindness and great cruelty. Whichever aspects of our consciousness manifest in our behavior is a direct result of the choices we make – the little choices – day in and day out.

Whether you grow your capacity for kindness is up to you.…because what you think upon grows.

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