Today I am sharing a guest post by the wonderfully creative Patti Foy. You can find her at LightspiritedBeing where she shares her many talents, writing foremost among them!
Do you have a story?
Something tells me you do. We all do. Oh boy, do we have stories!
And I’m not talking about just the ones we tell, those that amuse, or elucidate.
I’m also talking about those we drag around with us like a ball and chain.
Have you ever wondered who you would be without your story? Would you be anything at all? Or would you just be like the hole in a doughnut?
You would be free, that’s what.
Let me tell you a story about stories.
About 15 years ago my husband and I packed up and moved from the bustling San Francisco Bay Area where we were software engineers to a laid-back remote area in the high desert of NM.
We bought a mobile home to live in while we planned our straw-bale dream house and moved onto our property.
We were ready for something different but were totally unprepared for just how different it was. Sometimes we walked around in a daze wondering what we’d done.
In many ways, though, different was good. I had the luxury of not having to work right away, and enjoyed volunteering for lots of different venues.
One of the most rewarding was that I helped found an animal rescue organization in our rural area.
But it wasn’t long before I noticed something. My fellow volunteers treated me different than I was used to. They kind of talked down to me, didn’t really listen to me, ignored my great ideas.
One day it hit me why: No one knew “who I was”. Or what I had accomplished. Or what I could do. Those laurels I’d been resting on were gone.
To these people, I was just some unemployed female who lived in a trailer over in a less developed area that people in “The Village” kind of looked down on.
That was my first revelation.
It was soon after that when I realized I wouldn’t return to software engineering. We didn’t have much room so I was sorting through books to donate, and came across all my programming books and lots of college math books.
I loved math (yes, I was a little nerd), but I would never use these again. Still, I’ll never forget how hard I cried while I packed them up to give away. All I was really letting go of was my self-image as a smarty-pants. But it was tough, and I was surprised how much it hurt. It was like a part of me was being torn out. Really.
I did some serious soul-searching with that one.
Letting Go Of The Old Story
Soon after that, it dawned on me that I was trying to be a character in my old story. I decided to let go of it. I didn’t want to have to feel the need to validate myself like that any more.
At first I thought I had to start a new story, a new character, and maybe I did, in a way. But at the same time, I knew I didn’t want to trade one story or identity in for another.
To some extent, we all live a story automatically, by definition. But oddly, my new story included wanting to learn to live without a story.
I wanted to lose the need for a story and I wanted to be free of the context.
What the heck does that mean?
The Freedom of Life Without A Story
My first introduction to this idea was the experience of moving and not being able to carry who/what I thought I was with me very easily.
And then the resulting epiphany that it’s best not to.
Although our stories have some benefits, for the most part they’re a handicap because they shape our idea of who we think we are. This might not sound so bad, but we are sooooo cheating ourselves if we live that way.
Especially because usually we aren’t aware how much identity we have tied up in them.
You might be a wife. A mother. A savvy businesswoman or man. A kind person. A smart person. Reliable. Strong. Weak. Struggling. A screw-up. Whatever.
But all of these things, although roles or characteristics, really are not who/what you are. Not at your core.
At the core you just are. You are in this moment, fresh and new. Imagine yourself in this moment, without a past … without a future. Just now, who you are.
Isn’t that different? Doesn’t that feel kind of great?
All that other stuff is just conceptual. Even the so-called “good” stuff becomes a noose around your neck if that’s who you think you are. It defines you at some level.
When you let go of that and allow yourself to just be in the moment, you are so much more responsive to life. You can literally feel it moving through you, as you move through it. Life becomes a fascinating, spontaneous dance.
As you become more and more present, you are more in touch with your surroundings. More aware of what is really happening instead of just seeing what you expect to see. And you become much more intuitive.
I recommend you play with this idea, with trying it out.
You can also learn a lot from those who’ve mastered it. Here are some of the best teachers on the planet right now, IMHO:
1) Eckhart Tolle speaks and writes much about presence. If you’re not familiar with him, I highly recommend his books The Power of Now and A New Earth. They can be life-changing.
2) Byron Katie is quite radical, and I especially love her book A Thousand Names for Joy. But she has a lot of free information on her website too, most of it about “The Work”, a simple yet powerful technique that’s amazing for getting you past your stories.
3) John Sherman’s teaching is the most radical and powerful of all. It’s the ultimate how-to for getting to that space where Eckhart and Katie live. He has a book called Look at Yourself (including a free download of it on his website), and enough videos and audios to keep you busy. All of his offerings are free.
And with that, I’ll bid you adieu! Thanks for reading this far, and thanks so much to you, Lisa, for inviting me into your lovely space. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Do any of you have some stories about stories? Or recommendations for “being” without a story? Or do you disagree and love your story? I’d love to hear!