Lately, I have been realizing that most of my reality is totally made up.
I tell a lot of stories. Stories to others and stories to myself. I am very creative. Actually, we all are. Our imaginations are active and our minds are strong. And every day, we construct our own world by the stories we observe, embellish and re-tell.
Before you think I am getting overly metaphysical, stick with me for a bit. The day you just had is just a story. I bet if you tried, you could tell that story in different ways:
My alarm pulled me from dreams too early. I tripped on the cat stepping out of bed. I stumbled to the kitchen to find that I forgot to buy coffee. I missed the bus so I had to walk all the way to work. My boss assigned me to work on the new project with that bitch Irene. I had no time for lunch so I ate Cup ‘o’ Noodles in the office. By the time I got off work, it had started to rain. I’m alone, so I drank myself to sleep. What a crap day I had.
The alarm relieved my nightmare and I was happy for the daylight. Mr. Boots was standing by my bed waiting to say good morning. Out of coffee, I opened up that fancy Darjeeling Susanna gave me from her last trip. Instead of running to catch the bus, I looked up in the sky and found that it was a beautiful day to walk. My boss assigned me to work with Irene which could be a cool opportunity to find something I actually like about her over this 6 week project. When we needed to work through lunch, I was so lucky to find that secret Cup ‘o’ Noodles stash in the back of my bottom desk drawer- the chicken one is my favorite! Once home, the sound of the rain through my window was the perfect back drop to that glass of red and my book. What a beautiful day.
And it’s not just about today, it’s everything in life. It’s the stories that we tell over and over again. Why we went to that school. Why we work at that place. What our childhood was like. How that relationship ended. People ask along the way and we tell them. All the while, we are telling ourselves. Some people say that you can do anything you put your mind to. I would say you can do anything you put your story to. It might seem overly simplistic, but it’s true.
I am also finding that my stories are pretty well rehearsed. People ask me all the time about my move to Berlin. I usually default on something like this:
“I came to visit a friend for the Berlin Film Festival and fell madly in love with the city. I felt connected to it and supported by it. So I got rid of everything and moved.”
But I could also say:
“I needed to escape LA because I felt like it was strangling the life out of me with its consumerism and perfectionism. Berlin seemed a cheap and possible place to potentially explore and possibly fuck it all up. I needed that, so I jumped.”
But lately I have started thinking about this power. To create worlds is no small thing. Maybe it’s why we consider some people crazy, (suicide bombers come immediately to mind). It’s not just a theory that we create our own worlds, it’s a fact. Look around. Everyone you know is unlike everyone else. And everyone believes what they believe, about who they are and what they are doing in this world. (How else would people be able to justify dying/murdering in the name of something without a bit of creative reality making?)
I used to be afraid of being crazy, of not sharing reality with others. I had watched people who were very close to me create whole worlds where they were able to disconnect from people and do horrible things, all because the stories they told themselves made sense to them (relational suicide bombers). They weren’t good enough or everyone else was against them, or the pain/pressure was too much…etc. So I held on tight to try to stay “normal” to try to keep track of where the “normal” people were on the spectrum. What did they believe? That seemed the safest route.
But when pretending to be normal and working so hard to keep track of what was mainstream began to feel truly inauthentic, I made the move to Berlin and started warming up to this idea of being crazy. I mean, if everyone is making up their own worlds anyway, why not just find out what kind of world best suits me and then do just that. In this way it’s almost been like unraveling reality has become the best way to reassemble it, to make it my own and make it something I can love.
The story of my life may very well be a continuing work of fiction. But it will be my story and I am becoming more and more OK with that. I woke up this morning and decided to tell a different story.
What story will you tell?