During my mid-life crisis years it seems I learned a lot about myself and was able to finally put some perspective on things that had eluded me in my youth. Right around this time of my life I decide to take a pre-retirement (retiring when you are young enough to enjoy your time off) and for a year I traveled and visited places that had significant draw and opportunity for spiritual growth. The places I went to included Hawaii (for about 5 months) studying with a powerful Shaman - Chuck Spezano, Findhorn Foundation Spiritual Center in Scotland for about a month, Integral Yoga Ashram in Yogaville, Virginia (just South of Charlottesville) for about 3 months and Palm Beach Florida for a month to heal my relationship with my Dad. What a blessing to have had that year, to work for a company that offered unpaid sabbaticals and to have the savings to afford me this luxury.
In the Hawaii portion of my journey I worked with about 50 other people who committed to 66 days, 22 at a time to do some very intensive introspection. One of the most powerful takeaways was an exercise we did with an assigned partner over a period of 22 days. Our task was to tell our life story every day but each day we had to change the tone of the story. So one day our assignment was tell our life story as if we were a hero in our life, the next as a victim, the next day as a fairytale, the next as a tragedy, again as a comedy, and then a drama - on and on for 22 days, 22 different stories all based on the same factual basis. We could not change any of the facts of our life, only our interpretation of those facts from these different perspectives.
What did I learn? That my life story is just that, a story. Every single rendition was true. I didn't change any of the facts but what I did change was the spin on those facts. I changed my interpretation of my life events, which is what we do each and every day. We decide each moment how we are going to perceive every event in our life and it is just that, a perception, a judgment, a spin that we put on the facts or reality of our life.
I was so sick of "my story" at the end of 22 days, 22 tellings, 22 renditions that I didn't care if I ever heard or told that story again. That was all it was, a story. Something I made up about the events that happened around me in my life. None of it was true and none of it was false, the facts just were and my story was something in my mind that reflected those facts but did not take their place or become real just because they lived in my mind. Oh but how real that story had become to me and my emotional body, how much I had invested in it, how much unhappiness it caused me, and for what purpose?
It was about as real as the fairy tales I read when I was a child. A fantasy born out of some experience or idea that has little to do with reality. So my lesson was a reinforcement of one of my favorite historical figures most famous quotes, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be" by Abraham Lincoln.
So what about your story, is it a drama, comedy, tragedy or a romantic novel? Remember, you are the one that gets to write it and tell it any way you want it to be.
Photo Credit: Sheryl Cattell