Tell Me a Story…

<April 8/08>

I got up this morning – my birthday! – in a quite stunning place. I’m at a retreat centre called Hollyhock on Cortes Island in B.C., and this is my last full day here (darn!).

It’s a rainy day, and I have to admit, rainy isn’t my very favourite kind of weather. But it’s my birthday, and I know darn well a morning walk is always the best way for me to start my day (and also that “attitude is everything,”) so I cheerfully suited up in my raingear and set out for a walk over to nearby Smelt Bay Provincial Park beach.

On the way over I thought “dressing for the weather” is not such a bad metaphor for life. We will each encounter every kind of “weather” in our lives, and certain attitudes/behaviour/habits will stand us in better stead than others. Actively practicing gratitude, being out in and appreciating Nature often, learning to “let go,” understanding that “the best things in life are not things” and that “your wealth is where your friends are:” all of these will help get us through even the stormiest “weather.”

On my walk down the beach (the one pictured at the top of this blog), the phrase “The magic is everywhere” came into my head. I’ve long believed that “everyday magic” is all around us: again, the kinds of magic we encounter when we love Nature, follow our bliss, find our tribe and practice gratitude faithfully.

The magic this morning was in the natural beauty around me; never mind that it was raining. I saw two friendly fishermen arriving back on shore in that classic, charming yellow raingear, several loons, a whole host of interesting shells and pieces of driftwood, and just kept breathing it all in and giving deep sighs of gratitude.

Down at the farthest point on the beach, I looked out in the water and saw a huge flock of scoter birds. I had a chuckle recalling the amazing show some of these birds had given me on an earlier walk. If only I had videotaped them – they’d put on the most captivating play for me (well, not for me, of course, but there I was to gratefully drink in their highly amusing little “show”).

Then, for some reason, the thought came to me, as it has on other occasions, that we all carry a personal “story” with us, and that when we let it go – let it fall away – magic happens.

I used to carry a story about a not-terribly-happy childhood. Then, over time, that tired old one was replaced by one about the 20-year marriage that blew up.

Now, I’m just me – woman, mother, writer, environmental activist, friend, community volunteer, human being...

I think – I hope! – my story has grown bigger.

I think that, although I may weigh a little more now in actual pounds of flesh, every time I let my “story” go and just be, I become lighter…more full of light…freer…more joyful.

In the language of Eckhart Tolle (whose book and appearances on the webcasts with Oprah are so “hot” right now), our egos are very heavy.

They slow us down…they trip us up…they get in the way.

I’m not saying we human beings don’t need stories – we do. Many big writers and thinkers (e.g Thomas King and Thomas Berry,(1) to name just two) are quite right when they say that story is in fact the whole deal.

But what we need now are big stories; big visions – not little stories that keep us all caught up inside our own heads, recycling those little, personal “oh poor me” stories…

(Maybe we are like a snake that needs to shed its skin? It is time to move on…)

What happens when we drop our old personal story? Many of us are afraid of doing so, I know. The old story seems to give us an odd sort of comfort, doesn’t it? It’s so familiar. Yet the old stories don’t make us happy; they’re more like some sort of prison, actually – yet we do cling quite tenaciously to them, don’t we?

Letting them go sets us free.

One begins to sense one’s pure potential.

I’d say we are pure potential.

So here’s my birthday wish for all of us:

Tell me a story.

A story about possibilities and potential.

And then, let’s all start putting flesh on the bones of these new, big, grand stories.

Amen…

Janet

P.S. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” It is so, it is so...


(1) You will never go wrong reading any or all of Thomas Berry’s books…trust me! I’m particularly fond of The Dream of the Earth and The Great Work – Our Way into the Future. He also co-authored The Universe Story From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos with physicist Brian Swimme. Also eminently worth reading…