I’ve been athletic since I was a boy. I ran track in high school and college and continued to run through my adult life even when there were no more races to win. I eventually added pushups and pull-ups to my workout, as well as crunches, though my wife would periodically peer in on me and comment, “I don’t think you’re doing those crunches right.” She was correct. This past summer, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I bought T25, a “total body workout.” Like a lot of workouts, Sean T., my indefatigable virtual trainer, focuses much of the training on my core, that band of muscles between my chest and waist. No, I do not have a “six pack,” but after four months of side planks and leg lifts and sitting Vs I feel as though I am living with a kind of permanent back brace that snaps into form the moment I bend to lift anything. It’s awesome.
It is such a new feeling that it seems sometimes as if I’ve created muscles through my core that simply didn’t exist before. It’s not true, of course. Those muscles have always been there; I’ve just never paid such close attention to them. Now that I have, they have awakened and are eager to help, and I always appreciate help.
This is true of storytelling as well. When I teach I begin by reminding my students that nothing new will be learned in our classes. Stories are the muscles and sinews and bones of our consciousness. Everyone knows stories and tells stories and lives within a story called their life. Not everyone pays attention to those stories, however. When I do not pay attention to these muscles, life appears to me not as a story but as a thing already made to be endured and accepted.
But to tell stories deliberately is to awaken to what I am, to see life as something that supports me as I direct the focus of my attention toward what interests me and excites me and moves me. Life always responds to this attention as the body responds to my desire for movement. The only thing to be endured are the stories I do not want to tell, and the only thing to be accepted is my role as sole author, editor, and publisher of my life.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.