learning to tell a better (life) story
It's been months since I first heard this phrase, but it has sort of been haunting me ever since. Don't get me wrong: I like that it has stuck with me. I say it haunts me though, because I so often feel like my attitude turns plenty of things into an ordeal, when I really would rather be able to look back on my life one day and say it was an adventure. It convicts me. It also inspires + motivates me toward change.
You probably know this phrase: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?". It is the last line of the poem, The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.
Do you know what I really want? I think it is the same thing that we all want: I want to live well. I want my attitude to be one of adventure + embrace, not disdain and ordeal. I want not to waste my life, and I am sure you can relate to that. Can't you?
This summer, I think the only book I successfully started + finished was A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Don Miller. It had to do specifically with the idea of living well, of telling a good story with your life.
This was helpful for me, because I am the sort of person who can imagine anything. I can imagine myself living a fulfilled life as a doctor, while in reality, I do not remain conscious at the sight of blood + never have I ever been able to do the simplest of maths.
I can imagine myself being very happy + mildly successful as an Olympic figure skater, except that I would not be willing to accept the discomfort and inconvenience of daily practice (especially given that those practices would probably start around 6 a.m...just no). What I'm saying is that I am a dreamer and an idealist, and I often need other people in my life to help me assess what is feasible, and what is not.
When I consider what it would be like to live out a better story with my life, there is nothing in me that thinks I am unfit to follow that path, nor is there anything in me that objects to the discomfort of the process...because the cost pales in comparison to the reward, which is a life well-lived. It's totally, unequivocally, worth it.
So, what does it mean to live a good life? To tell a good story? It's more or less a loaded question. And one that I do not want to answer hastily, or mindlessly. I think it means a lot of things, and at the same time, I think it can be very simple. I see a lot of people, past + present, fictional + real, who have set excellent examples to draw from.
I plan to go into greater depth on this in a later post. For now, I just want to state with certainty that as for me, I cannot live life in an attitude of adventure all alone. I need other people to get me outside of my own head. I need to be reminded that I am not alone. And I need to believe that my experience is not being lived out in a vacuum, that other lives will impact mine, and that my life will imprint others'. We could call this a personal mission.
I think this is because we were designed to dwell in community; to not be all things to all people and to have it so effortlessly together that we dumbfound the world. Unfortunately for us, this is the insidious lie that is fed to us, and that ends up feeding on us. I want to be someone who holds out the light, who exposes the truth so that I + those around me can walk in freedom. That sounds like a life well-lived, to me.
So I can't say I have a plan all mapped out at this point, because if I'm honest...I never have a plan all mapped out! That's just not how I roll. But I know that I have been afraid of committing to writing for longer than I can remember, and instead of working it up into this whole big thing, I'm just going to baby step my way in, one at a time, knowing I'm not promised I won't fall down. In fact, I will fall down, many times.
I'm just hoping that I'll want to get back up because I'm in the middle of having an adventure.
p.s. incase I didn't say this before, I do NOT have this all figured out/pulled together in any way. I just want to figure it out collectively, publicly, and honestly as best I can, and I want to invite you to join me, if you think you should for any reason.
p.p.s. this verse, rn. I think it's a good sum-up of everything I feel + just tried to say: "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
k. bye. I'll be back later with more word vomit. I know you are just on the edge of your seat, for that.