Learning a new language

Our stories matter. For one, we identify ourselves within stories, it’s where we are located. It’s also how we frame the world we live in, and understand whether or not what we are experiencing fits or doesn’t fit. One could argue that our lives are a patchwork of stories — conscious and unconscious. Story is what’s at the heart of Charles Eisenstein’s work1. Story is what our religions are about. Story is at the center of our politics. Have you ever said to someone, So, what’s your story?” If not, you’ve likely asked someone else, What’s that guy’s story?”

When we go to therapy, one of the things that we do (often) is to reframe our stories. To lean to understand our lives in new ways. We can learn to hold the entirety of the world in new ways. Think about this. From where you sit right now2, your story can completely shift. Your entire world can be turned upside down in an instant. This can happen at any given moment. Like I said, our stories matter.

Much of the story we hold of the world isn’t even in our awareness. It lives in our unconscious. It’s hidden. Imagine reading a great book — say, any of the Harry Potter series — and then finding out that there was an entire other story hidden between the lines. You had to be shown how to find it. That’s kind of like us. Only once we’ve heard the story that isn’t in our awareness do so many things begin to make sense.

I mentioned in my last post that it’s possible that the work of world transformation may very well be an art project. One of my reasons for thinking this is that I’m starting to think of art as the language of the future. This language shows us the stories that can be created. It shows us the ways that we can reshape our current story, sure. More importantly, however, it shows us what is possible if we listen, and if we begin to act with the courage of an artist. This takes cultivating a presence, and willingness to listen, and opening to a flow that is beyond us. It takes getting out of the way.

I think this is what’s meant by the idea that everyone is an artist. We can all do this in our own way. In some ways, we all need to.

  1. Quite literally, really. The main theme of his work is the movement from what he calls the Story of Separation to the the Story of Interbeing (taken from Tích Nhât Hanh).

  2. Please understand that I’m talking to myself here just as much as to anyone else.

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Art The thought that’s been on my mind since getting to see the FLOTSAM! crew, led by Jason Webley, on Friday night is this: perhaps this whole world
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Box? What box? There’s this band that I’ve been listening to lately. They are called Jinjer. They hail from Ukraine, and are quite surprising to anyone unfamiliar