Here is a familiar scenario. Your friend breaks up with her boyfriend. She calls you, despondent—this was supposed to be The One. You meet her at a coffee shop. She is wondering what is wrong with her. She is wondering why her relationships never work. They had a lot in common. He was good looking and had an interesting career. They liked the same movies and music. She wants you to tell her if she is in fact as big a loser as she suspects she is so that she can take the steps necessary to correct and not spend the rest of her life bitter and alone. You tell her that the relationship was problematic from the start. You remind her of late night phone calls, her ranting about his latest insensitive maneuver. You remind her how distant he could be; that he flirted with other women in front of her. You tell her that the relationship was never meant to work and that is it is best that it is over so that she can find someone with whom she can be happy.
Both these stories were pulled from the same event—the friend’s relationship. Both narrators, if you will, focus on the details needed to make their “case.” What does life mean? We pick our details and we decide.
We spend our lives surrounded in stories: newspapers, sports, television, movies, books. We tell each other stories; we tell ourselves stories. The stories keep coming and coming and coming, and each of them a reduction, each of them a selected series of details connected to bring an audience to a desired emotional destination.
When I see the world as a static thing upon which I must merely report, it feels dead, and I never want to write another word. But when I see it as a banquet of infinite detail, all of it equal, all of it there to be used or not in accordance with the perspective I wish most to share, the story I wish most to tell, the world becomes friendly and alive. You will always see what you believe is before you. When I accept this mirage quality of life, I let myself see what I most want to see, and then tell stories about it.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.
You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com