09 April 2008

Your Life as Fiction

“I feel that you probably have the chance to change your whole life like a
thousand times a day….But the way we live we’re so shut down that our sensors
don’t (pick up) the stuff anymore. Because we’re scared or we’re not sensitive
enough to realize, or we’re not flexible enough to say yes or no, we just don’t
see it.”
- Franka Potente
One of my best friends has been overcome by a sense of dread. His life has, rather obligingly, become dreadful. Oddly, his life is not that different from mine in many ways, but his narrative, his constant refrain, is one of woe. And even more sadly, our lives depart in ways that are not fore-ordained; he finds himself entangled in miserable situations at work, situations that leave him emotionally and physically drained. This happens repeatedly. It could just be luck that my experiences are less onerous, are, in fact, exhausting but in more sustainable bursts and with people who I enjoy. It seems to me that, at some level, he creates this.

I could recount other people in other situations whose emotional state seems to find its own level in reality – as if their expectations, at some level, create the outcomes that match their inner narrative.

I’ve become convinced that we all write fiction. For some, this fiction is not particularly powerful – it is mere fantasy, like Walter Mitty. Others are more powerful authors who actually translate this into the real world. (And no, I don’t believe that our lives are completely or, perhaps, even mostly determined by such an act. This is a big world and anything we do has limited impact.)

This is not because of magic or because the universe wants us to get what we want. This is because reality is a swirl of possibilities at any time – we’re always at a place of near infinite possibility that is open, to varying levels, to our influence. It is not that we create reality, at some level – we just tune in to particular channels. The channels are always there: our choices might determine whether we get horror or drama or dread or chortles. We don't so much create our own reality as choose the dimension of it we live in.

If you make sense of your life by saying that “My job sucks,” your fate will know which way to navigate through the infinite swirl of possibilities: it’ll gravitate towards the “life sucks,” area. It is not that you create it – it is just that you’ll find a place of equilibrium once you hit “life sucks.” You’ll come to rest there because you’ve now matched the narrative and once you’ve done that, life – however miserable – now makes sense. The inner narrative and the outer reality match. You're at equilibrium.

You’re always writing fiction, always running a narrative through which you try to make sense of life. it seems to me that it's worth being careful what story you get hooked into because it just might become your life.

But of course, I could be way off on this. My notion that our lives are works of fiction might, itself, be a work of fiction. (And if so, have I just proved my point?)

5 comments:

jennifer h said...

And, after that last sentence, now I'm dizzy.

But you make an excellent point. And I like this sentence: "We don't so much create our own reality as choose the dimension of it we live in."

HRH said...

I completely believe this. It is about what we think it is, not what it is.

Ron Davison said...

jennifer,
thank you. I'm wondering now if I shouldn't have named this something like "channel surfing to the reality of your choice."

hrh,
is is what it is or is is what we think it is? Wait. Now I'm confused.

cce said...

Are you talking to me? Just kidding. I believe we have two selves, Self 1 is the bully who's always sort of picking on Self 2 which is the more thoughtless, go with the flow, id-level of a person. Self 1 can be just so mean and negative to Self 2 that Self 2 starts to believe the nasty messages, "You're no good at your job" or "You're not attractive" or "You're not smart", etc. etc. In some ways we need Self 1 to keep us on track, otherwise we'd all be drunk and fornicating in the streets and buying shoes we can't afford at Nordstrums all the time. But Self 2 needs a little leeway. We need to learn how to shut out Self 1 when the message is destructive. I feel for your friend. I do think, in part, we create our own unhappiness.

David said...

I like this effort Ron. You're walking on tightrope of wisdom and truth here that's found in most religions.

A clergy friend gave a book years ago entitled "The Choice Is Always Ours." It's a collection of quotations from these religions plus philosophy and psychology and from those we deem scientists. The book itself is laid out as a journey through life and the choices we'e required to make.

Accordingly since I believe we create reality for ourselves through choices life does not strike me as writing fiction though.

The fictonal version of living is believing our thoughts and choices make no difference.