Bang! That’s it, you’re in it. The greatest story you’ll ever be told. Your story, not mine. I’m in it, the greatest story I’ll ever hear, My Story. Honestly, tell me a better one? Go on! You can’t. YOU. You are you. Your relationships, your dramas, your actions, your heartache, your dreams, your loved ones. Tell me of one story that means more to you?
Sure, you could tell me about your favourite stories. The one you read over and over again as a child. The one that really terrified you. The one that came at that most pivotal point in your life when you were still forming and learning so rapidly that that expressed truth became a spark of who you are. The one that made you snort with laughter inappropriately (it’s debatable whether laughter can ever really be inappropriate, really, not real laughter, side tracked...Where were we? Oh yes - ) The one that comforted you, you know the one you can open at any page and disappear into so completely because that story is part of your make up now. The one that caused a process of catharsis within you, that made you care just that little more about the character than you thought you could and you find yourself trying to explain your emotional reaction logically but you can’t because it’s not logical. You feel it because you have lived it and you know that just by reading it has helped you to heal. It’s the character you identify with, the person you once loved, the thing you hate, your worst fear, your dream actualised, your role model, your passion, your hope and your hopelessness. Stories are us. They are your life.
It’s your story. That does not necessarily mean that it is your favourite story. But it’s the real one. Your truth is the truth because it’s the only one you can know. And your story is epic. You know it is. It is amazing and fucking terrifying. This life has made you feel in ways a story never could because it is yours, and is it not just the greatest story ever told? Biased, well, yes, your perception of the story is different to the next person’s story of your life. Memory is subjective. Our brains work very hard to keep us sane no matter what we try to do to them. That is why we find patterns. It is why our story is a story. That is why our lives are clichés. Life experience is individual but not so vastly different that commonalities do not appear. So much so that you start to see what point’s people are at in their stories that are parallel to yours. You want to tell them what happens next, that it’s going to be okay, or not. But would you have wanted someone to tell you when it was you? Even if you did would you have listened? No! Because what does that person know they are not you! Besides, you get to say ‘I told you so.’ Only kidding. Maybe. I think sometimes that when people say ‘I told you so’ in whatever form it is not a gloat, it is just them saying I know it because I saw it. But you would never have believed them, what proof did they have at the time?
People find soap operas tedious or at least I do. It’s an indefinite story, you don’t know the end. Until they cancel it and have to end it. But in theory the concept is never ending. But of course you’ll lose interest in that story, the only other story like that is your story, which is much more interesting! Your story will end but you will never know how until it does and then you will know no more. Your story is the ultimate story, with the ultimate surprise ending. So many variants, you can make informed predictions, but can never know for sure. We seek out mediums through which to tell our story. Songs and poetry, plays and novels. We tell stories to tell our story. Don’t consider this to be so? Ever sang a lyric and said the words as if you meant them? Because you did mean them. Just because someone else brought the words together does not mean that they have not summed up exactly what you were feeling. That’s why I read Philip Larkin, and John Keats. Because they have said in words that which I could previously not find words for. Such beauty in their words that to me it defies explanation.
Larkin for me verbalises how I feel about death. ‘And sense the solving emptiness that lies just under all we do.... Brings closer what is left to come and dulls to distance all we are.’ I could never find the equivalent with my words. ‘Even to wear such knowledge – for our flesh surrounds us with its own decisions – and yet spend all our life on imprecisions, that when we start to die have no idea why.’ These words stun me into silence. The first time I read them I felt my heart stop. He gave me that, his story impressed upon my own. For me, Keats’ words are delirium, pain, addiction, abandon, ‘My heart aches and drowsy numbness pains my sense as though of hemlock I hath drunk.’ I have never heard a more perfect description of what it is to be high. ‘Then on the shore of the wide world I stand alone, and think, till love and fame to nothingness do sink.’ Quotes that have become part of my own story. I am utterly guilty of plagiarism. The joy of finding words that express how you feel irregardless of whether they are your own, thrills me.
So many words, so many stories. Books that made me. For me, what it is to be a woman, to be female, to be a construction, to be feminine, to be the Other, to be patronised, to be frustrated, to be disenfranchised. Read The Magic Toyshop. Read The Passion of New Eve. Read The Life and Loves of a She Devil. Read Sula. Read The Weather in the Streets. Read The Handmaid’s Tale. Read Wide Sargasso Sea. Books that have touched my experience, that have helped me learn, made me analyse my thoughts, my observations, and my feelings. Books that made me think, test my morality, form my boundaries, and develop my viewpoints. Read Iain Banks. Read Robert Louis Stevenson. Read Irvine Welsh. Read Hunter Thompson. Stories that took me to a fantasy world that actually brought me closer to my own world. Terry Pratchett. Robert Rankin. Rauld Dahl.
Our lives are about telling our stories. We paint. We build things. We dress. We talk. We sing. We play music. We write. Sometimes people don’t listen much because they are too busy telling their own story. Don’t be angry with them. The best you can ever hope for is to be a part of their story. Maybe something you say or do will inform their story, maybe you will affect their life, or maybe you won’t. To quote another line that speaks to me ‘Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.’ The other line from that song that I try to remind myself of is ‘Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.’ I’m not quite there yet, but hey, I’m still learning...One of the best lines I’ve heard recently and have stolen for the purpose of this meander of thought is from a friend. When I said that my new hair felt more like me she said ‘You’re on the journey, and that’s why it feels like home.’ Stunned to silence, those were the words.
I write my story. The only reason I write is because I read. I’ve always read. It has helped define my story. It has helped define me. Words have become my form of expression because you do what you know. They have developed my sense of empathy. I feel that naturally I am quite an insular person but if you read enough of other people’s stories, of course you start to consider other points of view. I find other people’s stories interesting for the very reason that I can relate them to my own, or sometimes I can’t, and that just makes them all the more interesting.
Enjoy your story. I intend to enjoy mine. I have expectations, surely, but just as surely I expect the unexpected because that’s clever writing. Not that I’m saying that I believe in a Creator. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in one either. Someone might be writing the story, although that might just be another rationalisation. Ha. Who knows? I’m 25, hmm...24, just, and I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Well, I have a good idea, of course, but you never know what will happen over the page. May as well keep reading though. There’s one thing I can guarantee, with my story and with yours, it will be most interesting story you’ll ever be told.