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Reality is the Story We Tell Ourselves

Posted on:November 28, 2017 at 11:15 AM
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Everything is a story.

The sky is dark, we tell ourselves a story about clouds and evaporation. Or, it thunders and we tell ourselves a story about gnomes bowling in the sky — as my grandmother did when I was 7 and living in rural Western Pennsylvania.

Truths of the Heart

Some stories are scientifically true. Others tell truths of the heart. Some may actually fly in the face of all we can prove to be true, and yet give us the mindset we need to succeed.

For example, scientifically, we have no evidence of life after death. But, for generations, we have told ourselves varying stories about reincarnation, heaven and even that we are consciousness currently possessing human spacesuits.

We can’t prove or disprove much of this, though the rational mind strains to accept any of it.

This Crude Matter?

But what if believing in something greater than just this “crude matter,” as Yoda put it, fills us with the faith and contentment we need to face life’s challenges and overcome them?

Does it have value then?

It’s a Hologram

But even science changes its mind. New theories arise. Old ones are disproven. Today’s quantum physics talks of other dimensions and our universe as a hologram. Who’s to say that we aren’t luminous beings?

Our stories decide our reality.

The World Hates Me

For example, my boss chews me out about my disorganized desk, and I tell myself a story about how the world hates me. I think we all know people who choose this route.

Or, from the same incident, I can make it a comedy about how some people take life too seriously and are missing out on all the fun and adventure of living spontaneously.

Stories can erode our agency. I can talk about all the bad things that happened to me and say they have caused me to fail. But that’s a passive protagonist. That’s boring.

$50 To My Name

Because stories can also give us agency. I can talk about the time I had $50 to my name and was recycling pallets in a Pittsburgh winter, but through sheer force of will (and the help of a couple good friends) landed myself an investment banking job in Chicago.

Or the time my son came down with an incurable life-threatening illness, the doctors were worse than useless, and I healed him by designing a special diet and being patient.

Is it Fate?

When something goes wrong, we can tell ourselves it’s fate. We’re doomed. We’re stuck. There is no solution.

Or, we can tell ourselves it’s an opportunity. Maybe a test from above. A challenge to be overcome. A new path on which to discover unforseen wisdom, learn new tools, make new friends, gain greater self-knowledge.

We are story engines. Fill us up with good stories and we go.

The future depends on the story we want to weave.

Pitch Black and Minus a Leg

Speaking of story, I’m still writing the prequel novella to my Portal to Empire story. The protagonist of this story is the antagonist of the Portal to Empire series. I just took his leg and tossed him into a pitch black hole, deep in a mine on a cold rock of a planet, far from home and his wife and child. Yep, it’s getting good.

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash