When I get to heaven I hope there’s a really big library just beyond the Pearly Gates, or at least a Barnes and Noble. If not, God and I will have a conversation.
If I hoard anything, it’s books. Below is a picture of just two of the eight bookshelves in my office, and I could fill three more. I know that my life will be ended by an avalanche of books under which they will find me like the Pompeii people — still in a reading position.
There is a logic to stories . . .
Our brain requires connection, much like those visuals they put on the whiteboard on Law and Order episodes with the lines drawn between photos of potential suspects. When we get a number of solitary facts, our brain pulls them together to create a story that makes sense to us. This can be good or bad, depending upon how accurately the brain matrixes the information. Eyewitnesses have put more innocent people in jail than we will probably know in our lifetime. People see a person who is 100 yards away and are tentative about providing a description — that is, until the police question to get more information. That’s when the brain kicks in and creates a character that might or might not be accurate.
But I’m not talking about that kind of story. I’m talking about the kind of story that has saved me all of my life.
There have been days when reality was a little too much to bear. My dad had cancer, my brother wasn’t doing well, my kids were young and I was severely out-of-shape. What saved me? Getting into bed at approximately 1:00 a.m. and opening the pages of my new universe. Maybe I walked into a closet and ended up in Narnia, or became a teacher while reading Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide. Reading provided me with limitless possibilities, and took me away from my current reality of cancer and sticky door knobs.
I am one ample-sized story. . .
Stories have been so much more than a way for me to connect the dots. Stories ARE me. Every morning of my life is the beginning of a new adventure. My eyes open, and the writing begins.
Some days the story is upbeat and funny, like the day I found out my first article was published and I turned on Pandora and danced around my office, only to see a shocked UPS man staring at me through the window. Some days the story is pure crap, like the day I was late for a meeting because I accidentally threw my car keys into the big green trashcan. I arrived at work smelling like old bananas and soured milk.
The good news is that my daily stories can be edited and improved by the smallest twist. If I’m feeling down today, I can go to a restaurant to eat and have a baby flash me a shit-eating grin that makes me burst into laughter. Or I can see my crows. That’s right . . . I was visited by crows when I was young and home alone for a year. After a couple of months, I was allowed to sit in my backyard for thirty minutes once my tutor left. There was an alley behind my house that seemed to draw angry people, and it scared me. So on the first day, as soon as I sat down in my lounge chair, ten to twelve crows joined me on the telephone wire above the back fence and talked their feathery hearts out.
As soon as I went inside, they would leave. This happened every day until I went back to school. The crows became a wonderful chapter in my life story. My daughter commissioned a painting by artist Ben Schuh to capture it:
Every day is a story that can be changed . . .
If your day sucks, look for something that makes you laugh. Yesterday, I was down about some work stuff and saw a guy trip in a parking lot. Don’t worry, he caught himself on the back of a car, but the trip was hilarious. Yes, sometimes I energize myself by laughing AT people.
The important thing is that you look for the story changes that you need. And, if you can’t find them, create them by being the person to lift someone else’s day.
Don’t believe that you can change your story? Talk to the crow.
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