Lately I have been fixating on the idea of personal narratives; the necessary psychological mechanisms that keep our sense of self apart of some overarching life story. Most of us hope this story is one of success, contentment, and perhaps doing some good in the world. Our minds do not deal well with seeing life as the isolated and disjointed moments and events that it is. We crave, or rather, literally have as part of our machinery of thought the need to make all these dots connect into a bigger picture.
A contemplative might say that getting to a place of non-narrative interaction with life is where the things we are seeking actually are; that we are essentially looking in the wrong places. A certain presence and fulfillment is attainable when narratives are shed. It’s probably impossible to achieve such an inner nakedness completely.
I told myself some sort of story to be alive, still breathing, and at this keyboard, today, in this moment. No matter how uneventful the story was, it still led me here and I told it to myself without even knowing it. This seems almost inescapable. But taking the time for existing just to exist can be immensely rewarding. I’ve been sometimes good at it, and at others times woefully misguided. I’m not suggesting I’m any sort of monk or guru on this topic but it interests me greatly
I do not necessarily think the goal of life should be to rid oneself of all personal narratives. This is impossible. Thus, it would seem prudent to find ways of making our narratives work together or at least coexist without chaos. And this might be exactly where my obsessing on this topic comes from. I’ve been making an attempt at comprehending the tangled web of narratives and considering how these become the forces that shape history. From the micro to the macro, butterfly wings flap, etc.
Are we reaching a critical mass amount of narratives? Is the world ultimately too small for all of our stories? Are there any pragmatic ways for our narratives to interact and not lead to devastating conflicts? Has there ever been? Narratives quickly solidify and become the rigid and reckless ideologies of bureaucrats, businessmen, the disaffected mobs, and tyrants. And here I go with visions of dystopia…par for the course.
A bunch of bottomless deep queries and thoughts have been entertained in this blogging exercise, and not much has been provided in the way of answers. The existential gravity surrounding these thoughts are often too uncomfortable for most people to bare and with good reason. But as I’ve over thought issues about society, people and their narratives, I’ve started recognizing and pulling apart the stories that I’ve told and still tell myself. There are many slight and grand fictions that I have persisted in throughout my life; both profound and mundane, yet fabricated nonetheless.
What are some of the things that I tell myself that allow me to feel at ease being me, doing whatever it is I’m doing, right now? At ease being me? That’s a silly notion. Maybe this is where a contemplative might chime in again and say that it is okay to be me right now and I don’t need to justify that with a narrative.
I’ve caught myself following conflicting narratives in the same day; even in the same moment. Which is the voice of reason? Likely neither. But I think one seems to have more sense than the other. So without providing a moral to this story I will go on being my skeptical self about all the narratives human beings weave to give themselves meaning, with the understanding that my self proclaimed “wise skepticism” is also..just a narrative.