I have a lot of random experiences in my life that could make for humorous storytelling. Some of them are less than flattering of my judgement and character. Other stories I could tell relate to some of the more tragic circumstances in my life; tragic only because I was putting extra effort into acting tragically. I don’t think I consciously worked at this, but the idea popped into the back of my mind occasionally that if things went really bad maybe I’d get a tragic Lifetime movie made out of my sad existence. Sad only if it had ended in the few spots where it seemed possible. A made for Lifetime movie would probably be the real tragic event, everything else being unnecessary or at the very least misguided drama.
Most of us probably have a few moments in our lives that could have been the end, or could have been the situation that resulted in everything following it being tragically altered. I’ve been in two rollover accidents in my life, both I walked away from basically unscathed. Then there are those various stories I could tell that perhaps will make it into a memoir but at this juncture would just border on TMI (too much information). Needless to say, we’ve all had those moments that when recollected take on the shape of good fodder for dramatic storytelling.
But that’s the thing, it’s not that these events inherently hold the weight that sometime later we infuse with particular meaning, it’s that story is one of the ways we’ve learned to make sense of our life and our world. This might be a worn topic, but it’s constantly coming up in my mind. Perhaps it’s because I’ve read so much this year, mostly nonfiction. And it’s very interesting to see how people retell history and form plot threads. Good guys, bad guys, conflict, resolution, these things exist mostly in our mind and are matters of subjectivity.
Surely pain and strife will come upon us, and it’s not that the meaning we cobble together has no meaning, it’s that things happen for a reason because we later give them the reasoning for why they happened. Especially if they were unexpected or if things didn’t happen as we intended them to.
I suppose the question worth asking might be ‘is there existential utility in considering from time to time that our meanings are meaningless in the objective sense, and that our life stories are made up after the fact as much as they are in the moment of the making?’ Is it worth asking? I don’t know, but I still ask myself that question all the time.