Tell Your Story
Tell Your Story
If you want to understand yourself, tell your story. And not the obvious one. If you want to understand yourself, begin an Archeology of Shadows. A good starting point: When did you first realize you were different?
At the origin of consciousness is a crime scene. When did you first realize you were different? No one is normal. Not a single one of us. Cada cabeza es un mundo. Translation: Each mind is its own world.
When I say tell your story, I don’t necessarily mean with pen and paper. You could do that. But you get to tell your story how you choose. You could tell it to your partner. You could make a FILM. You could DANCE your story. What would that look like? You could tell your story through a PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY. You could PAINT your story. SCULPT it out of clay or WELD it out of metal. The form is less important than the process. What are the points along the path? The critical moments, decisions, triumphs, failures? What changed your direction along your path? What confirmed it? What happened unexpectedly?
There doesn’t need to be an audience for your story, in any formal sense, but a story is told, in part, to be received. It is told to be told, and it is also told because your story carries something in it that may be connected to my healing. And because your story, deeply told, in addition to being your story, is also our story. The story of us. Because we are all part of a larger, shared story. The story of the human family. If you'd like to see our impression of the original story of the human family, check out The Origin Story.
Related Practices:Tell your story is really a self-awareness practice, so in certain ways it is connected to all practices in the category of Meditate. (Self-Care sub-menu at the Practices home page). Specifically, these include Meditation, Meditate in Nature, Sit Spot, and Quiet Your Mind. Each of these practices creates conditions for us to notice our stories. There is a level at which telling our stories is about noticing the stories we are creating in our minds, which is about being able to see the way that our minds create narrative from our experience. In Polyvagal Theory, we say that story follows state. We sometimes think that we have feelings about the stories in our minds, but often it is the feelings (deep, primal feelings) that drive the stories we tell ourselves. The film about the Polyvagal Theory explains this more deeply. And developing this capacity to witness our thoughts, to notice the stories we tell ourselves is crucial. On the creative side, at the level of actually writing a story, getting some training in creative writing can be useful. In the future the video here will enter that conversation more deeply.
Who taught us this?
Gabriel says that the most refined instruction he received here was from Adam Johnson, Professor of Creative Writing in the Stanford University Creative Writing department, with whom he studied for several years. Adam is the author of The Orphan Master's Son (which won the Pulitzer Prize), and the story collectionFortune Smiles (which won the National Book Award), among other works. Adam has an uncanny and sometimes disturbing ability to enter into the mind's of deeply strange protagonists, guided by a deep understanding of the yearning that drives character. He changed the way that Gabriel writes stories, by teaching the craft of fiction through the lens of the yearning of character. Each of the following writers broke open a new dimension in storytelling for Gabriel. James Baldwin, whose searing self-awareness and social awareness shines a light on his own deep interior terrain, and what it was like for him as a black intellectual in the United States. George Saunders writes of a ludicrous alternative reality on the cusp of absurdist science fiction whose borders come to more and more closely resemble our own. What he wrote 15 years ago that seemed absurdist now seems more like prophecy. Toni Morrison taught Gabriel how to write a trauma narrative. When we experience overwhelming events, they break linear time, and defy logical explanation. Toni teaches us, among other things, the art of telling these stories. If we continued to the next plane of citing influences, people whose writing we thought was fantastic, the list would expand to probably fifty writers, so lest we leave someone out whom we admire, we'll yield here.
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Who taught us this?
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Teach me how
Humans have probably always been awed by the natural world.
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Video: Distill | Photography: Stein Egil Liland | Licensed from Pexels.com, used with permission.