Story Time


Whether you call yourself a writer or not, you’re a storyteller. Stories are how we communicate with each other, and how we understand the world and ourselves. And perhaps more importantly, we are also all living in a kind of storybook of our own creation, filled with our own villains and heroes, our own monsters and saints, and our own idea of whether this story can end happily or not.

I became most acutely aware of the storybooks in which we live the more I wrote these little essays. One of the stories I tell again and again in this space goes like this: Everyone has what it takes. Everyone is exactly equal, but not everyone is equally interested in the same thing. I love that story. I also happen to think it’s reality. That is, I don’t feel like I imagined it so much as perceived it and described it. It seems like the truth whether I believe it or not.

But it feels like a story because I must tell it on purpose. For a very long time I told a very different story, which went like this: Some have what it takes and some don’t. All you need to do is open your eyes and you’ll see this is true. If you have what it takes, lucky you; if you don’t, too bad! This was a very unfriendly story. This was the story of haves and have-nots, of winners and losers. I knew which I absolutely had to be if I wanted to be happy. I just couldn’t figure out for sure which I was.

When I first began writing these essays I had to be very disciplined to tell the story I wanted to tell. I was so used to telling that other story that it felt like reality. I could not sink into the dream of the story I wanted to tell until I forgot that other story. Sometimes I did this quickly, often not so quickly, and occasionally not at all. No matter. I practiced and practiced telling the story I wanted to tell until one day I looked up and realized I was telling it whether I was at the desk or not.

I still fall into telling that other story from time to time. Just like each genre offers its readers a reliable reading experience, so too this unfriendly story of mine always ends the same: in failure. It is the story from which the lie of failure is born. In this story, death is more important than life, and I am more important than you. Fortunately, I no longer feel like myself when I’m telling it. I feel instead like a character being forced by its author down a path he would never choose himself. The moment I choose the correct path, I am myself again, and author and character are one.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.