We all have stories to tell that trace the path we have followed through our lives. Some of these stories we tell to the world, but some we tell only to ourselves. As a professional storyteller I have spent much of my life telling stories to others.
It was only a few years ago that I started to think consciously about the “Me Stories” I have told myself through many years. I recognized several facts about these “private stories”: I am the only action character in the story; often a single action is repeated over and over; and the story is told in that time after I close my eyes and before I lose wakefulness.
The story changed as I passed through the stages of life. The first story I remember telling myself started at about the age of nine or ten: I am driving an Oldsmobile convertible with two Boxer dogs in the back seat. I drive past a girl standing beside the road, time after time. I don’t stop to engage the girl in conversation. About the age of sixteen the story becomes me as a football player. I have the ball and I am running through the opposing team. I break free and run toward the goal, but I never score the touchdown…I just run toward it over and over. By twenty-something I am living in an apartment. There is a beautiful woman who lives down the hall. I go to her apartment and open the door. I walk toward her bedroom, over and over again, but never go through the bedroom door. The mid-forties find me climbing the stairs to a stage where I am to receive an award for my creative work. I climb the stairs over and over, but I never accept the award.
Wait! Hold on! I think I understand the point of these “Me Stories”: I enjoy imagining the moment of success–the story–more than living it!
Ah, I can see you shaking your head in pity for the old teller of stories….no wonder he’s not become famous and rich in his life-he’s just a dreamer. Again, hold on a minute and let me make a case for my understanding of life. I was born into a Christian world that encouraged me to find meaning in anticipation of a future life, not this life. Heaven is my home; I’m just passing through this world–this was the wisdom of the world that bore me.
Today, I do not call myself a Christian–at least not the kind that my family imagined when I was a child. I try to be centered on the moment I am living. My goal is presences! I try to not dwell on past failures or future successes like sex, scoring touchdowns, fame and fortune….or even eternal life in heaven. My ambition is to engage in daily life creatively. I find meaning in life through the creative act…..writing or telling a story, or just fixing a clogged bathroom sink! (Blog, March, 2019).
My “Me Stories” today explore the world through the creative act. I find my spiritual and worldly meaning in this engagement….my reward is the creative presence in my life!