The story sherpa
Updated: Apr 14, 2018
I was talking with someone the other day about the power of the story. She had been to a talk recently and one of the takeaways was the idea that we need to stop attaching to our stories. It almost sounded like the antithesis of where we are now, here in the world of blogs and oversharing and #metoo and the liberation of shame and all of the things that have been so key to the healing of so many. It sat ugly with a crowd of woke women who have attached salvation to the speaking of their story.
I pissed someone off recently. Someone I love deeply and with all my heart. I told her that her story was getting in her way and that she needed to tell herself another story in order to move forward. She didn’t want to hear it, from me or anyone. We get attached to our stories and we create our way of being in the world through our stories. The plot, the villain, the hero, the twists and turns, the things we can control and the things that happen to us. We start to believe the narrative. Our stories, even the painful ones give us great comfort because they allow us to predict what comes next.
Part of the process of change, of growth and evolution is the letting go of our stories. And if we really want a change, we have to be willing to look at our story and separate the truth from the meaning. Things happen. To all of us. Tragic things, terrible things, things that hold us, things that stop us, things that drive us, things that break us. Things that we chose, things that we didn’t, things that we understand and things that we will never. Things that we carry, and things we drop. I’ve had a lot of things happen. Forty-one years of things.
“The human body regenerates every single cell over a seven year time frame. How lovely it is to think that I will soon have a body you never will have touched.” – unknown.
I love this. Some of the stories, some of the things, they happened to a body that has evolved. The scars, the traumas, the pains, not on this body baby. Of course, the energy that I gave those things, the emotions that I attached, I still hold them. New body, old body, or some body in between, I have woven the energy into my stories and I have tucked them away – in the back pocket of my heart, the crease of my hips, the crook of my arm. I have let them rest heavy on my lungs and sighed with their weight. Balanced them on the top of my head with not even close to the grace of an African woman carrying more. Slung them from my shoulders like an overstuffed and frayed bag carried for too long, through too many airports. Carried them like the babies on my hips, rocking to and fro and back and forth in grocery store line ups to keep them from whining. Used them to pad and protect myself from all the threats, real or perceived, an impermeable barrier against more things. I have bound myself in the tapestry of stories that I have written and the meanings I have assigned.
I am coming to realize that many of my stories no longer serve me. The stories that are attached to things that happened, things that didn’t, the things I did and the things I didn’t. The things I regret, the things I ache for, the things that I would change, the things that I can’t. This infinitely wise body of mine knows how to regenerate and heal itself given the time. Why would I counter that with the stories of the past? I am not a place for old wounds. I am not a beast of burden. And I am not a story Sherpa.
I didn’t mean to piss my friend off when I told her to ditch her story and choose a new one. Not at all. I wanted her to carry a lighter load and move forward with the grace and lightness that I see in her when she forgets to remember her story. I wanted to remind her of her infinite capacity and her ability to do hard things. We all have a choice, in any given moment that determines how we show up or where we go next. The work is in remembering that, staying connected to it and being conscious of it. The art is in making the choice.