So, turns out all of us have a story- and everyone’s is different. Joy, pain, love, hurt, excitement, drama, success, struggle – collectively these things are not unique to a small fraction of the population, but rather have touched most of us in one form or another along the tightrope of life. These are pieces of us as human beings – some happening as much to us as because of us, and the strands of our lifelines steadily braid with all other experiences to make the whole of our stories.
As the events of life snake together to form our personal histories, we entrust them in shaping our futures, as we scratch our heads over the before while concurrently making choices for our after. This is an evolutionary phenomenon – a survival mechanism that has helped human beings rise to the top of the food chain, Kings & Queens of the world, as it were, and our brains have emerged wired for this kind of learning.
Using the interpreted information from our past to make judgements to help us in our future survival is a good thing, but there can be unintended consequences. The wisdom of our past is meant to teach as much as protect – and sometimes that means from ourselves, as we run through the scripts of our lives determining what we are capable of, what we are worthy of, and, so often, what we don’t want, in lieu of what we do.
These things have the aggressive ability to root us in our bygones, rather than propel us toward a future of our liking. We hold on to our hurt and we live in our pain, forming a protective bubble around us in an effort to prevent any comparable experiences in our future. And that can keep us from a whole lot of living.
Like so many other individuals, long ago I acquired the practice of leaning on the things that were wrong in my past more heavily than those that were right- a backward philosophy for a species of such progressive action. Additionally, in the past of my own story, I have tended to ground myself in the whole of my failures, the hurt I’ve felt from others, regret for my poor choices, embarrassment in my behavior, and even shame at my actions.
Reiterating this story for the bulk of my adult life has not served me well, as I have continually added to the pile of been-there-done-that during the course of living, bringing an updated doctrine to the forefront of my brain with every life experience. I, like so many, have kept myself hostage by my self-judgements, coloring within the lines, every so often bumping up against the unfailing borders that I created through my stagnant thinking of what was, occasionally remembering to acknowledge what is, and so often forgetting to consider what could be.
Still, recognizing this is a first big step to changing it. I don’t want to alter the fact that my brain is looking out for me by protecting me from my own actions, but I also don’t want to live in the depths of my past failures and fuck-ups to such a degree that it keeps me from moving forward.
My past experiences don’t tell my future, they tell a story that I have lived – a story I am wholly responsible for and humbled by – in both what has been done to and by me. My story has love and hurt, it has happiness and sorrow, it has success and failure. It has life. And, while it has been ripe with struggle – though no more or less than most people have, the scales topple in favor of love and joy and laughter.
The truth is, I wouldn’t change a single line of my past story- not one, although I could wax regret at so many things. But, I’m doing my best to learn from my experiences as opposed to being victimized and pointing fingers – whether at another or simply right back at myself.
And as for my future story? Oh yes, it’s on. It’s on like Donkey Kong, baby.