The spaces between words and The Neverending Story
May 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
I never told you about hiking in Norway, falling in love with Aurland and Tone. Or about the week we spent exploring Tad’s Swedish heritage and the intense bonds developed there. Or that I began to teach. I never told you the story of how we found ourselves in India and how I threw down my heart in Varanasi and again in Macleod Ganj. Or how we lost both remaining pets and how that feels after 15 years. Or that we finally put our house on the market. I haven’t shared the revelations, love, confusion, heartbreak, exhaustion, connections, the LIFE that has been going on. All these many pieces of where I’ve been and who I am becoming. Much of it is recorded on the scrawled pages of blank books or buried in the folds of wrinkled skin, bedsheets and grey matter. These stories are still shifting, still being made – this recent past still struggling to be seen and understood. Which makes it that much harder to know where to begin. (Begin again. Just begin.)
On Sunday, I “finished” reading The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende (the story of how I found it, who it’s tied to, what it means to me – another story, for another time). About mid-way through I closed the cover, my receipt from the used bookshop marking the page where these words appeared in green ink, my heart thumping as it often does when encountering a significant truth: “’A story can be new and yet tell about olden times. The past comes into existence with the story.’” I’ve been returning to these words again and again, as I knew I would in the moment my eyes traced them into my heart. So many meanings.
If I were to read a factual accounting of the events of my life, word for word, would it change my experience of it? The understanding of my history comes into existence with the stories I have told myself. And my past shifts as current events shape my perspective. The truth of the past always exists – the actual events, that is; but the way we frame it can change (if we allow ourselves that), just as the framing of the same events differs from person to person based on the perspective.
It’s only recently that the story of how I talked myself out of teaching has been written – and the associated events remembered. How much of that is fact and how much is still a distortion? How much of it was obscured and comes to light only because I can now look on it with love? The past can be a thing that I bend to my own purpose, hiding hard truths from myself, or it can shed new light on my life, showing me the way. Sometimes I use the stories to assign meaning and sometimes they seem full of meaning independent of my curation… Do as you wish, sometimes the wishes of the heart are deeply buried and hard to find. The stories help me see the wishes that have been there all along. I am no longer the confused child, wanting ever to please and ever to rebel. I am the one who knows the middle way (for the moment at least). I am the student. I am the teacher. It is so humbling, and so very RIGHT.
What a human thing, that the stories we tell ourselves shape our experience and our emotions. The olden times we tell about, this is our humanity. Our new stories about our old experiences. The past matters because of who it has created. The present matters because of how it shapes the past and who it IS creating. The snakes biting each other’s tails. Neverending and on it goes. I am bound to revisit my experiences, again and again, until I step in with a proclamation, a new name, a new perspective and a new story. I am bound to this, maybe, until I step into my Self. The past does not matter to this eternal piece of me. I have no stories at all, except the new one being created right now, and now and now and now.
If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. Sometimes I feel that fantasy can address questions of consciousness and history and love more readily than other types of fiction, because these things can be so…Fantastic. I’ve never thought myself a story-teller. But clearly, in my own way for my own self, I am.
May I tell myself stories that contain Truth even as the details, circumstances, and perception shift. May I forgive the dark spaces that accompany the manipulations of my memories. May I step in when necessary, to begin the story again with more clarity, reshaping the past, the present and my future.
Are there any books that read like Truth to you? Or a story of your own life that you’ve begun to see differently?