This morning as I meditated, story arose, as it often does, and I named it. As more story surfaced and the naming continued, an image emerged of a cello or perhaps a violin, bowing the melody of each narrative thread. I could see each note floating in the air like the discreet vibrations that comprise a piece of music, wafting through the mind and drifting off into the ethers – but only if I simply witnessed them. If I let go of any grasping or reaching for the notes themselves, I was free to stay present in the moment, as it was. Watching. Witnessing.
Story colours the landscape of the mind. It is the canvas upon which musings, imaginings, and memories are crafted. When lost on a thread of thought, original details can become unrecognizable - embellished and revised until the notes played conjure up an entirely different tune. When done in the context of creative writing, this departure from reality can be expansive and exciting.
But, so often the narratives that sweep us away, arise in response to life. As they play out in our heads, we begin to lose touch with what is real and true. The witness is abandoned to the intensity of the part/s that need to engage, defend, create a response to some real or imagined threat – to some perceived historic or future offense. In so doing, the entire composition is changed, sometimes beyond recognition.
As the observer is replaced by the defender, one becomes lost in the growing din that arises in the background of this once solo performance. An entire orchestra is now playing. Cymbals clash and the dramatic echo of drums punctuate the story as a response to a wound that has been touched deep inside the mind of the listener. A righteousness arises that ensures that the self is defended at all cost; the witness now long forgotten. Occasionally, an off-tune screech of an instrument poorly played, announces the arrival of a belief that keeps one spellbound by the narrative being (re)written. One begins to imagine responses from the offensive other and the editing continues. The imaginal drama is kept alive only because attention has been hijacked. The ego is in control now. The Higher Self is forgotten.
Suffering is borne
I can recall such moments, when my imagination has lured me into the orchestral pit of an unfolding tale. This is where truth, as conceptualized by my own small self, exists. It is informed by decades of experience and coloured by the beliefs and wounds that have been borne of difficult moments. It infiltrates my psyche and convinces me that I am separate from others and in need of protection and comfort. And it is from this place of separation that suffering is borne. When the wounds run deep, the need to engage an internal dialogue is strong. This helps re-establish a sense of footing; it helps to make the self right, because being wrong is unimaginable.
The nature of the mind is to take control. To capture our attention and then, if caught unawares, to lure us into the drama of our own imagination where angst and dis-ease exist. Here we become bound to a profound kind of self-made suffering.
Fairy tales & fertile ground
How easy it is to become lost in the energy of such moments. How powerful and disorienting. If attuned to this departure from Self, if one is conscious of not acting from this place of story, it soon becomes revealed as a fairy tale – not real or true to the extent imagined. This has been my experience on many occasions, and it imprints upon me, the importance of asking oneself “Is this true?” In so doing, a pause is created and the opportunity to move from story and back to witness arises. In this place, the potential for remembering what is really true becomes accessible.
We are all here together having an experience that will push our edges in ways that can feel at times, unbearable. This is what we have in common and this is what unites us. While we arrive at our belief systems through different means, they inform us all the same and it is from this vantage point that we find the fertile ground of our common humanity. We need not hold so tightly our one perspective. We need not find fault in the other just to keep us from feeling unsafe and vulnerable. There is space and room to hold both storylines.
Release the drama
So let the notes waft through. Allow the melody of your own unfolding pass through your awareness without grasping or holding onto anything at all. Release the drama. Keep the story unadulterated, pure. If you can hold all of it just as it is; if you can let go of the need to colour behaviour as right or wrong, good or bad, then perhaps, the notion that we are all doing the best we can, might arise. We all want to be loved; we all want to belong and feel a sense of peace and joy in our lives. Achieving this begins with what we tell ourselves and what we choose to hold onto.