It was early one Saturday afternoon when I first heard a soft, muffled knock on a window while clearing out the bed of irises in our front yard. Occasionally, my husband will knock on our window and smile at me, or maybe signal that I have a phone call from Mom.
Yet today, Brian was nowhere to be seen. So, I shrugged it off and resumed cutting back the late summer foliage – prepping for next spring’s passionately purple display of beauty. I heard the knock again. I looked up and still didn’t see my husband. “What the heck?,” I thought. Curiously, my eyes scanned across to our next door neighbor’s yard.
Ah ha! I saw young Alex, age three, knocking on the front window of his house and grinning broadly. Delight crossed his face as our eyes (finally) met. We both smiled in giddy acknowledgement of one another.
A few minutes later, another knock. I looked up, my eyes met Alex’s, and we both smiled again. As I continued with garden-tending, Alex and his parents were leaving home for an afternoon at the park – baseball gear ready to go.
Alex excitedly told me he’d seen me, and that “I wanted to say hello,” so he knocked on the window to get my attention. I thanked him while he now looked shyly away, holding tightly to his mom’s hand. His dad went on to say, “He gets really bummed when he knocks at people passing by, and for whatever reason they don’t respond. He gets really sad when they don’t see him.”
Like Alex, we all have moments when we want to connect – when we want to be seen – if not for some specific reason, then for the sheer pleasure of it.
As young children we don’t ‘know’ we’re creating our life’s stories with such simple actions, yet it is in the seeds of our early experiences that our personal stories begin to grow. Ultimately, those early stories filter our incoming experiences and become the future core stories we tell ourselves.
It’s an invisible process, this ‘storying’ of a life.
Our stories become embodied with time and repetition – living in our bodies as well as in our thinking mind. And, of course, we don’t have just one story, but multiple stories that we craft and re-jigger over time.
It’s in the telling of stories that we not only texture our lives with an understanding of the social context — the intentions, instructions, and collaborations involved in living with others in a particular place, time, and culture — we also learn about ourselves.
In fact, Jonathon Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal (2012), says that stories are, perhaps, “the main cohering force in life.” Stories can change our behavior. They can influence our perceptions. They may even have the potential to, quite literally, change history by driving our actions. (Just look at politics around the globe right now).
What’s your story, you know, the one you’ve been telling yourself lately?
- It is an old, worn out story or one you’ve recently begun to re-write for yourself?
- Does your story serve you and enrich your life?
- Does it keep you in a certain mood?
- Does your story tell the truth of who you are, or of a journey on the road to who you’re living into?
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