Thursday, February 27, 2014

Your Story ...

In Kurt Vonnegut's book Breakfast of Champions there is a scene near the end in which he, Vonnegut, puts himself into the story and has a conversation with one of his most famous recurring characters, Kilgore Trout.  It's not often that the author of a book is a character in the on-going story of the book she or he is writing at that moment.  More often than not the author "speaks" through one or more of the characters, or is present in a story about her or his own past.  But the present presence of the author?  An author who explicitly and self-consciously rewrites the action of the book because of the action of the book?  Well, that's a little unusual.  Maybe only Vonnegut could pull that off.

I've recently been listening to a CD of Dr. Bren√© Brown.  She's the social scientist whose TED talk on vulnerability took the internet by storm.  In the material I'm listening to she's talking about shame -- what it is and how to become more "shame resilient."  She's saying a lot of fascinating things, and this morning this phrase jumped out at me:

"When you own your story you get to write the ending."

Let that sink in for a minute.  Let that sink in for a minute and see both if that makes sense, and whether or not you're living like that.

I'm not.  At least, not a lot of the time.  A lot of the time -- maybe even most of the time -- I live as if I'm a character in a story and things are happening to me.  The choices I make seem almost inevitable or, at least, severely limited by the circumstances around me.  "I would do this, if only that were different ..."  "If only this situation changed I could do ..."  Sound at all familiar?

And yet, when I meet with people for Pastoral Counseling I am clear that they are not bound by a story
someone/something else is composing.  I often say to people that the events of their lives are like chapters in a book, and a book that's part of an ongoing series.  This particular thing that they are dealing with is not the end of the story -- the end of a chapter, perhaps; the end of one of the books, maybe; but the story goes on and we have no idea how it will end up.  There are lots of times that things look pretty grim for Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen, but the next chapter, or the next book, can make things look very different.

And so ... "when you own your story you get to write the ending."  We are more like Vonnegut than Trout.  To me, that's good news.

So it goes ...

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1 comment:

kloppski said...

Very nice, thank you. I love your musings.