Nothing but Stories

“I’d once heard that we are nothing but our stories. Forget the blood and bones and genes and cells. They’re not what we are. We are, rather, our stories. We are an accumulation of experiences that we have fashioned into our own grand, sweeping narrative. We are the events and people and places to which we’ve assigned symbolic meaning. And it’s when we step outside our stories that we feel most lost.” – Ken Ilgunas

I’ve written about stories a lot here. And this quote from Walden on Wheels is a reminder that everything that happens to us in life becomes part of an inner narrative. I’ve said over and over that it’s not the events themselves, but the meaning we attach to them, that’s important. One really great example of that can be found in Life of Pi. And, if you’re looking to explore the meaning of your own stories, I recommend Everything Happens for a Reason.

Stepping outside of our own stories can be one of the most valuable experiences in life. While losing the certainty of the narrative can be an unsettling experience, it also contains an incredible opportunity. Sometimes we’re so busy slotting people and events in our lives into the prefabricated story that we lose the ability to experience them as they are. (“Oh, this always happens to me…” Cue the self-pity, entitlement, or whatever you like.)

Sometimes getting lost is just what’s needed. When we step outside of ourselves, we gain a whole new perspective on just about everything, that is, if we allow ourselves to just be a little lost. To experience the surprises that await us outside of the familiar and predictable.

Enjoying the journey, detours and all, is part of living well.


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