Another Way
    For most of the past week, I attended a conference in Albuquerque called "The Language of Spirit." The conference brings together a mosaic of people from around the world to dialogue about such weighty matters as consciousness, science and the nature of reality.
    The conference featured a number of different viewpoints and speakers, from Aborigines and indigenous North American scholars to pasty-white Irish storytellers and theoretical physicists from England and India.
    The idea is for the participants to put forth their thoughts, ideas and worldviews on the matters at hand, which this year were bundled up under the theme "Space and Place." From all these varied viewpoints, the theory goes, we can begin to weave the tapestry of reality.
    I was thinking about this as I was trying to write a blog entry about "communication" in "relationships." Pre-Busting Loose, one of the bedrock beliefs in my relationship game has been that honest "communication" between two individuals in an intimate relationship will result in something meaningful. Not sure what, but something meaningful. More connection. Make-up sex. Less co-dependence. I don't know.
    Now, I've got a whole theory that "communication" is, for most of us, just the web of stories we accumulate and repeat to each other in never-ending patterns, and that we should just dismiss them and move on. But as I was writing it, I reflected upon the conference speakers. The one's with theories certainly made a contribution. But it was the stories, not the theories I heard, that will stay with me.
    One woman told a story about a great spiritual healing that took place at the site of a massacre of an Aboriginal community in Australia, more than 100 years after the event. Most of us were holding back tears by the end.
    The pasty Irish storyteller (I kid you, James) told a wonderful story about visiting his deceased mother's home in Ireland with one of his sons, and finding the spirit of his mother still there, in a spring spouting the sweetest water his son had ever tasted.
    A woman from an indigenous tribe told about a man diagnosed with incurable cancer whose life changed when he decided to raise buffalo instead of undergoing life-extending treatment suggested by his doctor. The man is alive and healthy, several years after his death sentence.
    We learned of the secret lives of mice and rocks, lizards and trees, birds and mountains, through the many stories that were told and songs that were sung. I came away enriched by the experience of hearing these life-affirming stories.
    The conference reminded me that storytelling is our most ancient art, our most ancient way to pass down wisdom, our most ancient way to reach each other on a deep level.
    So when some smartass like me tries to tell you that your psychotic behavior is the result of you hanging on to your stupid "stories," and you can fix that by just not believing them, well, even I have to pause for a moment.
    It is human nature to want to be understood and to express ourselves. That is why storytelling has such a a grip on us. So we even cling to the stories that maybe don't point to enlightenment:  "I'm a victim of love," "I'm a woman who loves too much," "nobody appreciates/understands me," and  "he left me for that little whore;" yada, yada, yada as my spirit guides from "Seinfeld" like to say. They may be unhelpful stories -- unhelpful in helping us expand in Phase 2 -- but they're our unhelpful stories.
    Many of us will fight for them to the end. I remember meeting a disgruntled man at a personal transformation workshop who was complaining about his divorce -- 10 years after the fact.
    In Busting Loose, Robert Scheinfeld correctly notes that in Phase 1, we focus on our stories and beliefs and illusions, energizing and giving them power. Power that is rightfully ours.
    The solution is to exchange the stories and lies for the truth of who we are. I get that. But somehow it seems aesthetically unsatisfying. I mean, as great as the truth is -- that we are infinitely abundant, joyful, wise, powerful and loving -- it does seem kind of boring. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
    So let's move toward truth, but let's be gentle. Let's respect our stories no matter what they say, They are after all, like all our creations in Phase 1, miracles. But let the old ones that don't support us go quietly and if we must have stories, let's create some new ones that point us in the right direction.
    I'm reminded of where I was a year ago, in the throes of a separation from my partner. I was conjuring up re-runs of grade B horror movies about being unlovable, unappreciated, rejected and having screwed up yet another promising relationship. It was a familiar story.
    But the story has changed. What my partner reflected back to me at that time set me on a new path, looking for another way. I see the bigger story in my more lucid moments and appreciate everything she and my Expanded Self had to tell me. As a writer and filmmaker, I will always love telling stories. But now I can glimpse the truth, and that's a happy beginning.


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8/14/2009 01:29:52 am

beautiful and thank you for the stories, reflections and love.

8/14/2009 01:38:32 am

like Byron Katie says, "who would we be without our stories?" i love my stories, the richness, the details, the intricacy...all of it...on this busting loose journey i find that my appreciation for the stories magnifies..when viewed as a story unfolding, the unexpected twists and turns are such a thing of beauty.
and i apprceciate my creation of you!!

8/14/2009 03:25:38 am

I've loved my stories, been awed by their power and color. I love hearing stories too. I, like Nancy, appreciate them all the more now....the "bad" is no longer the bad. What freedom in was all a big game, a colorful powerful play....doesn't diminish anything, actually the opposite. Massive appreciation for them.
Your a pretty good dreamweaver yourself Tony!

8/14/2009 05:15:47 am

I massively appreciate this point. In my life I have judge many stories connected with my life as "bad" stories. Or, "good" stories. I have known a BUNCH of people who have done that too. I think we all tend to do that. Now, at the risk of sounding as if I am judging the story about judging my stories, I don't care for judging them any longer. They are what makes us who we are. I've got stories that, to me, are horrifying. About the "cruelty" of life and the "stupidity" of people. But those events and those people all have had a part in shaping the man, the person, the being I am now. Where would I be without my stories? How would I have become who I am without them? I have no idea. But I like me now and I am proud of how I have turned out considering all. It's ALL my stories that have shaped my mind, heart and soul. But I have one comment about this sentence in the blog: "But let the old ones that don't support us go quietly and if we must have stories, let's create some new ones that point us in the right direction." As I see it, all our stories have pointed us in the right direction through the Infinite wisdom of Expanded Self. Good article!

8/14/2009 07:03:34 am

Stories are great, entertaining, educational, and fun, as long as you recognize that it is a story, not "the truth". We are all making it up all the time. And we get to act in the play or story we make up. So it seems most useful to make up stories that are fun, entertaining, educational, enlightening, and life affirming. I find it useful to ask myself "what is my payoff for telling this particular story in this way?" Is there a different way of looking at this, a different perspective, so I come up with a different story that serves me and all others concerned better?
Everything that isn't a grounded assessment is a story. Grounded assessments seem dry and not dramatic or exciting. So we tell stories to entertain ourselves and others. This is fine, as long as we recognize it is a story, not "what is".

8/14/2009 08:42:23 am

I agree with everyone. My stories helped make me who I am, they provided necessary lessons, and ultimately they are not the truth. But they're becoming much more fun.

8/14/2009 09:29:25 am

What a great story, Tony. Wish I had known about this conference! Please keep me in the loop on any others like this.


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