Story is a really powerful thing. Most of us know it can entertain, create commitment, mend fences, and even spark a movement. But do many of us know that the simple act of writing our own story can be life-changing?
My only child is currently engaged in the age old right of passage of writing his college entrance essay - three little paragraphs that seemingly hold sway over so much. But as his writing-coach mom, I have been struck by something else about the process. Regardless of the practical results of his essay, the act of writing and claiming one's story is a profound moment in a person's life. It is a moment of answering, "Who am I? What is my value? What do I want? Am I enough?"
When we write our story, we are thick in the act of meaning-making. It is as if we broaden the lens from being the experiencer to also becoming the observer, from character on the screen to also being the audience in the seats of the theater. As observers, we could interpret our role as central characters in so many ways - as victims, heroes, teachers or learners. And depending on the lens we choose, our stories look and feel very different.
I have come to believe that a need for meaning-making is something inherent to us all. We've all been taught the hero story, one which begins with a call to adventure, presents one or more problems to be solved, and a conclusion where either we solve the problems or we gain a new valuable insight about ourselves.
All too often, though, the standard story line is one of good versus evil, right versus wrong, winners versus losers. But real life is rarely, if ever, that simple or absolute. Our stories are imperfect, our victories incomplete. Our most satisfying and heartbreaking moments come because we have put aside that stark "otherness" and dare to connect in what Rumi referred to as "the field" "beyond rightness and wrongness." The alternative to meeting in that field is isolation, stagnation.
I think we are being challenged in these confusing times to claim our deepest stories amid the loudness and roar of all the fleeting outer stories, and to claim them as empowering, meaningful "enough stories." When was the moment we realized we were enough to make a difference? When did we step out of patterns of powerlessness, blame or shame to feel our precious, one-of-a-kind spirits shining through?
Reading my son's story about himself has been a very moving experience for me. Some of the greatest privileges in my seventeen years as a parent have been our sacred conversations when I've remembered to reflect back to him his precious "enough story" until he could clearly see himself.
Everyone knows from direct experience that the most powerful stories ever told are ones not crafted in this complex and fleeting web of "have to's" "should's," winners and losers, but those which connect to something much deeper and more universal and enduring - the heart. Yet I don't think that young people of any generation have ever been so challenged to be and do so much at a young age. It is so easy for them to doubt themselves and lose themselves in the complexity of expectation, convention and nuance that is heaped upon them. If for no other reason, I think it is imperative that we get in touch with our own enough stories so we can help our children to affirm theirs.
To claim our enough story is to remember again who we truly are; to remember what we love and why we have come; to affirm that we are and in fact always have been enough to be perfectly who we are. To do this is to claim for ourselves and for the world a greater sense of peace, liberation, self-acceptance and purpose. In my opinion, nothing could be more powerful - and meaning-full - than that.
How about you?
When was the moment you realized you are enough to make a difference?
When did you step out of old patterns of powerlessness, blame or shame to feel your precious, one-of-a-kind spirit shining through?
You can find our more about Laurie or her book, Enough! How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word at www.theenoughmessage.com
Laurie writes another monthly blog, Wisdom From the Circle, sharing the themes that arise in her women's circle each month.