When I wrote Fearless Writing I came to understand that fear is really a story about the future. Likewise, writing memoir and personal essays, and working with many clients who are writing memoirs and personal essays, I also came to see that all shame is a story about the past. Finally, just being alive and trundling around the world seeing stuff I don’t like and bumping into people I don’t feel like bumping into and doing things I don’t feel like doing, I’ve had to acknowledge that all my pain is a story about the present.
It’s an odd point of view, I admit, for a storyteller like myself as it doesn’t say much good about stories. But the truth is I tell stories to end them. I tell stories about my fear to remember my fearlessness, about my shame to remember my innocence, and about my pain to remember the effortlessness of acceptance. This is why I love stories – why I love telling them and why I love hearing a good one.
If, that is, I remember that a story is just a story. All my fear, shame, and pain are a consequence of mistaking stories for reality. This is very, very is easy to do. I do it all the time – daily, to be perfectly honest. I’d like to attribute this to me being such a good storyteller that I simply fool myself with my own vivid imagination. In fact, mistaking a story for reality remains nothing more meaningful, noble, or exceptional than habitual forgetting. I forget so often you’d think someone had hit me on the head with a hammer once upon a time.
Maybe someone did, and maybe I was that someone. My youngest son, now 19, told me recently, “When I was little I thought the world was like a big, beautiful playground. Then I learned the truth.” Did it break my heart to hear this? No. In truth he taught himself (with my help, I’m sure) to forget what is waiting as surely for him as it is for me. It can’t go anywhere. It’s there beyond all the suffering and disappointment and confusion and grief, there where all the stories we torment ourselves with must end.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com