Life is complex. It’s multi-layered, both dark and bright in all its facets. As time (seems to) move forward, our tendency as humans is to form a narrative to make sense and meaning about why things happen from one day to the next and to justify our own actions in the world.
These narratives come from many places: the media, organized religion, works of art (books, music, fine arts), networks of friends and colleagues, our own reflections. With social media here to stay, it’s as if every variation of the “how and why” is competing for space in our thoughts.
When a significant event like 9/11 manifests, the powers that influence and control the larger narratives fight for the “one true meaning” that will shape public policy, the frames that the mainstream media position themselves within and the overriding conversations that we, the people, have in our daily lives.
9/11 brought put the big guns, so to speak, of the narrative creators. In the emotionally potent weeks afterwards, we created the AUMF (authorization to use military force) that led to so many things: from Guantanamo to torture to drone assassination strikes to arming rebels in several countries to a huge surplus of military equipment filtering down to local law.
I believe it’s important to question everything, especially the assumptions in any narrative, lest we move through the world on autopilot, becoming drones ourselves to the stories forced upon us from people we’ve never met. We all have our own story… and many stories we tell ourselves, imagining we can keep our sense of self together and coherent.
Today is a good day to reflect on what your own story is… who you are in this world, why you’re here and exactly where all these stories have come from. Don’t doubt for a minute that you are your own best arbiter of your own definition. Keep it fluid, keep it close to your heart. Who else knows you better than you… the one who has walked more miles in your own shoes than anyone else?
Make your own stories. Don’t live anyone else’s. And know when to end a story and pick up a new one. Stories have a tricky way of wanting to hang around too long through nostalgia and recurring memories triggered through traumas big and small.
Hold someone you love today. Close your eyes. Feel their heartbeat, the rise and fall of their breath, the warmth in their skin. Forget everything in that moment and just be with the glory of life itself. See how long that moment can last and when you part, stay connected with that deeper source you just touched and make a new life from that silence… stay amazed at the stories that start to emerge, pick one and play with it, have fun, be courageous and smile a big smile of welcoming home to the next stranger you meet. Life is strange and delightful. You can be, too!