Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Life Story, pg. 1

There are times in life when intersections occur. Times when several things from different spheres of life seem to point to the same thing. Then, there are times like I am experiencing, and everything points to the same thing. In the last couple weeks, I’ve learned to pay attention and let whatever needs to unfold like watching a dream and knowing it will make sense in the morning. My insides want to use every defense mechanism against allowing change to recreate me, including the harder than usual eye blinks to test reality.

At last, a combination of reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, attending a Screamfree Parenting training, getting a new job, and dogsitting, all pointed me to something changing life as I know it. It is the concept of story, of living a better story, of being a bigger story than I am. I had the realization I was living a crummy story, where the most significant thing happening was earning stars on DJ Hero. When a video game became my means of asserting my power and mastery in the world, I knew the story had to change or nobody would read it, but boy could I mix it up on the pretend vinyl with a fade switch.

Why am I living a life I don’t want? Why I am living a story where the most intense conflict is whether or not my truck passes inspection? Why do I eat some new form of grease-soaked substance every day when I value my appearance? Why am I working three jobs that don’t even add up to a fifth of what I should be making? Why do I keep looking to other people to give me some magical bean to plant and then climb the vine into the clouds to find a better story full of alliterating giants and farm animals that birth gold?

Everything began pointing to story. Like Donald Miller, I found myself living a boring story. I am now in a process of creating a new story—one with conflict and triumph, power and mastery, one where the hero is not trying to manipulate 1s and 0s to get a higher score. Life looks different now. I can speak to it, tell it I love it, and tell it that it sucks. I hear a born and bred impulse telling me to cool it, take it easy. As I told a friend yesterday, the old me has a thought, “I guess you’ll just have to hit TOP before you come back to reality. Don’t get too excited.” In the new script, I have a level 3 curse word for that thought that would leave my mom giving her unapproving head shake I used to depend on as a morality gauge.

The biggest lie we face is that we can’t change our stories right now. I believed this and waited and waited and waited. Fortunately, a little thought occurred and shot across synapses in my brain and then the connections began to form, “What about a new story? One where you overcome conflict to get what you want. One where you are free of a life of labels you didn’t choose but accepted. One where you knee dogs in the chest so they stop jumping on you and start respecting you.”

I actually ordered oatmeal this morning rather than greasy eggs and freedom toast because the protagonist in my story has choices. For some reason, my character also drives a car that is clean on the interior. My character sweats the small stuff for a bigger purpose. My character makes decisions with purpose. My character has a wife that is turned on by purpose. My character writes blogs at the risk of sounding like the next guy who just lost it. My story is changing…


  1. I dig that book. I think it's better than Blue Like Jazz. BLJ just said some cool stuff, AMMIATY actually makes a point.

    I have to say it was pretty cool reading that book as we are homeless and embarking on an adventure to travel the world. I'm pretty stoked about living a better story.

  2. Great writing, Ben. Thanks for risking sounding like a guy who just lost it. I enjoyed reading the risk.

  3. Alright Ben, I'll read the book! Monica, are you reading it? We can all discuss it later . .

  4. Somehow I did not add your new blog to my feed reader, so I am catching up. :-O Bad few weeks to miss!

    Excellent post! I also read the book and had a very similar reaction. Perhaps less admirable, I have taken to the life motto "Live every week like it's shark week." (from 30 Rock).

    And I gotta say- I'm loving this life. :)

    Thanks for the reminder Ben.