Life is first the step you take, and then the ground you tread upon.
Toil or play comes from how you are moving in a living thinking feeling social world. To wrap up, it’s ultimately about story telling. What story do you tell people in your demeanour? What story do you tell people in your choice of activities? None of it is real in a strictly objective, material sense. What story do you tell yourself in your choice of friends and faith? Politics? These may seem like insubstantial shadows, but I ask, is there anything in your life that wasn’t shaped by your story telling? My life was shaped by it. Should I go into that?
I was the narrator. Early on I learned I wasn’t welcome as a participatory character. From all the stuff I have been reading about doctors observations of parents and family members of autistics, it would seem really quite stressful. So instead I tried to engage by looking closely at what was going on with other people. This gave me some sense of being involved in something, some sense that I was experiencing a life if not my own.
So yes, I avoided a lot of trouble. No chemical addictions, few violent altercations. I really avoided doing anything. You can feel a whole lot as a narrator, suffer a great deal as you witness the horrors and tainted joys of people’s everyday lives, so it wasn’t that I didn’t experience pain. I just wasn’t the author of it. This is of course my early years. That changed when I got out on my own. I was still narrating mind you, but my old setting was gone, so I tried to improvise. My experience of my earlier story line didn’t equip me to understand much of the context I saw going on around me. Some people swore that maybe they might have some use for me, some actually did though that use was short lived. It’s funny how people react when you help them past a milestone in life and then they want to forget their past, they forget you too, and some get to the point of being beyond that stage of their life, only to ditch you and dive right back into it.
So I took a very cautious step and tried my hand at those most personal of stories, those dirty little vulnerabilities that just about everyone is resistant to discuss publicly; emotional intimacy, romance. They discuss sex freely, so that’s not included. I thought maybe if I could find that place I wasn’t normally invited into, I could mean something to someone in that way. I was really naive of course. It turns out people treat themselves the same way they treat the big bad world. I have yet to find any exceptions.
So that failed, but left me with a new story. Not a new part of my own story, that was still just the same shit on a different day. The story of my son. Now this I felt I really should take a hand in. I felt I owned it to my son to try to spare him some of the pain and despair I experienced. So I raised him as long as I could in a way that drew on my own experience. My community was not at all sympathetic. Apparently, when writing the story of a child you have to press the pen down hard, and write exactly what is supposed to be on every list no matter how much the ink smears. So again, they relieved me of that role, and that brings me up to this point.
Second Life actually changed my life. At first my interest was marginal at best. I just grew sick and tired of how people behave when they are “playing a game”, and more specifically when they are “playing to win.” My first online community was World of Warcraft, so when I discovered Second Life, I decided to move my activity there. It didn’t have the excuse of game play, the basis for rationalizing their expectations. It seemed to be just a free and open world where you could wander around and explore the product of peoples imagination. It did prove to be that to a degree, and I found people behaving in a very interesting way. I have my silly foibles of course also, perhaps the biggest or most obvious being that I like to talk a lot it seems, even despite myself. It’s really sort of embarrassing at times. Someone got it into their head from my idle chatter that I should start teaching a meditation class, and the rest is shared history.
I didn’t much take to doing the class to be honest. I tried to figure out what the meaning was behind it, why I was asked, no luck, but people kept asking so I kept doing, and here we are. So is there really anything more to life than story telling?
Good now is good now. I don’t consider myself a cynic. I have learned to appreciate the good in moments, as it comes, and well, after getting together with my wife those good moments comprise whole days now and occur on a daily basis. I just don’t feel comfortable entertaining the idea that things happen because they “should” or that people do what they should. That’s my only cynicism really. I have learned the rules don’t apply, aren’t real. What is real is stories. The stories people mutter to themselves in line at the grocery store, or whisper to their romantic partner in a quite place when the date is going well, and like all stories they are ongoing, change pretty freely, though are never really discontinuous. I have learned to admire and respect people I think are also cruel. I have learned to be suspicious of the kindest seeming souls, and everything in the middle.
How about your stories? You don’t have to tell them if you don’t want, but have they really not shaped your lives?
I have learned new story telling techniques from my wife. I have found that there are reasons to do things other than simple cooperation, and that maybe I should just do some of my own story telling, my own script writing.
Like my fairy tale on how people always do the right thing. Indeed, I have been able to examine that closely, and I have even found ways to support it. It’s a paradoxical story that one and has positive emotional value.
I’m reminded of a short story by Virginia Woolf, about a couple who have a story together in which they are both rabbits. It’s Lapin and Lapinova. The man eventually yells at his wife and tells her to stop talking about the stupid rabbits and breaks the story and cuts her to the soul. Serious ignorance and fear on his part.
And the last line is “and that was the end of that marriage.”
My wife and I are very much into sharing stories. We play role playing games together. She has become a big fan of WoW, and has proven in general to be open to just about any experience short of the completely insane, which I also value. I’m not as daring as she is in WoW.
We have a mythology around our dogs. The seven pound one is a fearless hunter and has caught rabbits so we imagine her dragging much bigger animals home. Ah, heroic doggy. And the other is a lovable curmudgeon. Ah, hero and wise person. You could write a fantasy novel with those two characters, perhaps tribal dogs, or Jedi knight dogs.
We tell ourselves stories naturally. It’s what give us the ability to plan and anticipate future outcomes.
In any situation we talk about what the dogs would do with it. As far as I’m concerned pets are people also, just very elemental.
Kind of little magical beings. Yes. We can be big magical beings ourselves. Perhaps it is only a matter of time.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.