For years, I’ve been attempting to find my “raison d’etre” or reason for being. Sometimes the water of life gets muddied by the debris kicked up by human experience and those bedrock notions get lost. In my case, I’m not sure it’s ever something I really stopped to consider until fairly recently. As we get older, I think those moments of clarity have become more important, but it’s a bit like an archaeological dig at times.
I’ve never led what I consider an exciting life. A moment here or there, perhaps, such as falling in love or witnessing the birth of our children, watching the events of the Challenger Disaster or 9/11 unfold, or dealing with the sudden loss of a dear friend. For the most part my seas have been relatively calm with a few storms now and again. My history is not one of epic moments affecting others.
In the end, my goal is to lead a quiet life where I try to do the right thing when I can and accept my own mistakes and limitations when I can’t.
Some days I succeed.
However, I realize that when I’m happiest, I’m usually wrapped up in a story of some sort told in the company of friends and family. Sometimes they’re my stories. Sometimes those of others. Sometimes they are fictional. Sometimes factual. And all have some element of truth to them.
What I’ve come to find out is that everybody and everything has a story to tell, happy, sad, or ridiculous as they may be.
When we look at history (or herstory), it’s the “story” part that’s key, told from a particular perspective with it’s own biases. And yes, we all have biases.
Good nonfiction lets us draw our own conclusions about real events and people from the facts. Good fiction lets us follow along as our favorite characters stumble along, drawing THEIR own conclusions from their experiences and relationships. And no two people will read the same story and come to the exact same conclusions because no two people have the same life experiences to draw upon.
Consuming a story is not a passive act any more than creating one. We process it through the lenses of our own lives, generating an internal retelling of the tale using our own stories to relate whatever truths we find there and store them to memory.
Stories are magical. And like all magick, it can be beneficial or it can be dangerous.
That’s the beauty of art. Whether you are singing its praises or detailing its faults, you’re right. But others may not share your opinions. Feel free to share them, but don’t be alarmed when others’ opinions differ from your own.
My reason for being is to find and tell stories, both real and imagined. What’s your story?