Our story—ever malleable and open to being invented
“…From an early age I knew my ambition was to be in a plot, or several plots—but no plots came my way. You have to apply for them, a friend of mine told me. He’d been around, so I took his advice and went down to the plot factory. Like everything else, there was an interview. ‘So,’ said the youngish man behind the desk, ‘You think you have what it takes to be in a plot? What did you have in mind?…’”1
When we’re asked who we are, we pretty much tell our story. Story telling is key—it’s how we understand one another, how we preserve the past, how we make meaning, how we bring new realities to life. While our stories are rich, layered, and unique, we are no more our stories than we are our names, all that happens, the meanings we assign, or our mental or emotional states. The content of our stories is not us—yet, often without us even noticing, the content of our stories and “who we consider ourselves to be” (our identity) get collapsed and become one and the same. The collapse is just kind of a built-in, de facto part of human nature. It’s where we get stuck and what immunizes us against the vastness of what’s possible in being human.
We can describe and refer to ourselves as “in” the story—to forward our views, launch great ideas, further our commitments—but we are “outside” of it, standing ever ready as the author. Our authorship lives in language. It’s in language that we articulate, define, and shape reality, giving us hands-on access to a world that’s malleable and always open to being invented.
1. Adapted from The Tent by Margaret Atwood.
Landmark Forum leader
MORE CATHY ELLIOTT