Friday, March 19, 2010

...the stories we tell...

No, you are not crazy - I did publish this post yesterday and have republished it today.  The discussion in the comments is lively and interesting and thought it would be a shame if they were missed.  So in the hope you will enjoy the exchange of thoughts from astute commenters, this post is having a second go round.  A few have commented more than once, please feel free to do the same if you have further points to make.

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  1. I usually don't disagree with a quote, until now. It's the opposite, I think. When we tell stories we try to capture all of reality; hardly ever do we succeed in capturing it all; we approximate its brutality, its beauty, its hidden damages and virtues. Our stories are our realities.

  2. Lakeviewer: I'm glad you said that! I, too, disagreed with almost everything Byron Katie said when I first read her.

    She is not talking here about our stories about nature, life, beauty -- but rather the stories we tell about ourselves -- e.g. I don't know how I will survive my next session at the dentist; I cannot breathe if I encounter a cat; my wife has no concept of how to stick to a budget; this course is just too hard for me; my boss hates me; etc. etc.

    Byron Katie believes that if we question some of our beliefs about reality, we will find it is not nearly as unbearable as we make it out to be.

    Anyway, I understand your reaction - now I read her frequently in my efforts to fight less against 'what is' (reality). Two of her books are: "Loving What Is", and "Who Would You Be Without Your Story?" ... worth a read if you want to live more peacefully and save energy by not always struggling against 'what is' ...

  3. i am glad that i read the comments on this one t gain a better understanding...i think we can tend to embellish a bit...smiles.

  4. Bonnie, I really like the painting behind the quotation. Vibrant colors and suggestive figures.

    As for Byron Katie, her work has helped me, too. When I find myself boxed in by my thinking, I can do "the work" and find relief from afflicted thinking.

    As for her quote, the word, "always" is one I try to avoid using, along with "never" because they're awfully strong words. I'd like the quote better this way: "Reality is often kinder than the stories we tell about it." (But then I guess you wouldn't be quoting her anymore.)

  5. I'm so glad lakeviewer got here first and that I could have your explanation before making my own comment, 'cause my first reaction was the same as hers!
    And even then I interpreted it (the quote) as meaning 'the stories we tell about others'. Which got me thinking about how we tend to respond to someone who is either self-deprecating in a gentle or funny way, or negative about themselves. The response to people who do this is to try and lift them up, so to say. And that thought led on to other stuff about how we relate to someone who appears to place themselves lower, and how this can be a real social skill depending on how it's done etc etc etc.
    I'm just running on and on this morning, Bonnie, avoiding doing what awaits me work-wise, but thought you'd like to know that you sparked a whole train of thought.

  6. Hi Bonnie

    that was an interesting reaction from Rosaria...and I think the last sentence she wrote returns to the premis where I believe you started... and that is that we tend to believe the stories that we tell...more than the reality that they are based upon...we are very good at fuelling our personal stories and embellishing them, distorting them and painting them in hues slightly different to the original...I hear it in my retelling of daily activities and in my children's recounting of experiences... stories are not real, like Rosaria said they are approximations only and when we tell stories about our personal experiences and outlooks they are often faulty... I have to agree with you.

    In regards to Rosaria's perspective I agree with her there too but I believe that you are discussing different types of stories....

    Happy days

    PS I loved you comments today. I lost all my return comments and gave up...I smiled to think of you singing that ditty and then thought of other rhymes such as Jack and Jill who also needed to remain balanced...

  7. "our stories are our realities" lakeviewer said. I agree.
    the stories we tell are often stories that we have rearranged in our heads to cope with reality, to neaten and tidy up reality, or just to sweeten reality.
    And what is reality anyway? We see it differently at different times and once we have told the story, is it still true?
    Have you any idea what I'm talking about? I know what I want to say, but ...

  8. Brian: Well we do need our treasured poets to take liberties with reality, don't we! :)

  9. Dan Gurney: I often do 'the work' in my head - "Is that true?" ... so helpful to question our thinking assumptions.

    Yes, always/never can be problematic. Although I love how Byron Katie uses them in reference to reality be purely what it is: "When I argue with reality, I lose. But only 100% of the time."

    Thank you for noticing the painting. It is done with a palette knife so is rough and unfinished looking - but I like the room that leaves for imagination.

  10. Deborah: Well, I feel like I have accomplished something if posting a quote can lead to such an interesting train of thought!

    It's nice to have a conversation here - and that's the point - we don't have to agree - and let's express our point of view and read others'.

  11. Delwyn: What you say is so true - we do take liberties with our stories about the events of our day, dramatizing and embellishing them ...
    Then we believe them. Once we believe them we begin to gather evidence to support them and then we become almost deaf to anything that does not jive with what we have decided to believe.

    That's why Byron Katie's 'work' of questionning our thoughts is so valuable - and powerful.

    You know, I think you are onto something there with your linking polarities and coming back to centre with old nursery rhymes. We should make a list!!! I was so tickled when my subconscious obviously still had your post on its 'mind' and unbidden produced another 'ditty' to concur with your suggestions. It was fun. Thanks!

  12. Hi Friko:

    You raise good points. When we reconstruct reality to make it more palatable, or when our fears make it more threatening than it really is - we have not constructed a reality, but an illusion, I think. Sometimes we want to retreat into our illusions ... but at some point we will have to calculate the cost ...

    And I think that is what the quote from Byron Katie is suggesting - that if we give up the illusions we may find reality to be much more palatable than we imagined.

    I always find what you say to make sense dear friend - and beyond that to contain so much hard-won wisdom. So very much appreciated whether it agrees with my contentions or not. Anything and everything you have to express - in whatever way you wish to express it - is welcome here.

  13. bonnie i find dan's rebuild of the quote informative in the sense that it allowed me further inside what you're saying. "Reality is often kinder than the stories we tell about it." when i see the world i see worlds - blurred like fog - worlds unto themselves if i decide to isolate them by giving them names or seeing them as objects.
    reality is such a dynamic idea. if i stopped at the surface of my experiencing of this world it would be such a loss. i would miss the point of this place. this porcess. beneath the surface of this world lie riches. there are some realities that are more beautiful through the stories we tell about them, because we actually see them. thanks for this. steven

  14. What a great discussion and Steven's comments have taken this discussion to another level for me...I love it...of course reality is dynamic. And what we see and believe today may be different to the reality of tomorrow...nothing is fixed and therefore we live in multiple worlds on different levels of awareness and also different depths of perception and spiritual sensitivity.

    And Steven's last premis is just wonderful...sometimes we bring new worlds into consciousness through our stories and they are just beautiful....

    How fascinating to read all of these ways of reading your post...

    Happy days

  15. Steven: And could it be that there are some realities that are more dynamic and beautiful when we peel away the blurring layer of the stories we tell about them?

    I think Byron Katie's suggestions are for us when we are working at the level of ego - ego with all its fears, defenses, stories, rationalizations, intellectualizations. Those stories need to be challenged to discover the beauty, simplicity and even appropriateness of difficult realities.

    THEN, having learned how to do that we can move on to what you and Delwyn (next comment) are talking about ... where there are worlds within worlds, complexities beyond the obvious - the transpersonal, transcendent level. Byron Katie is trying to help free people from the limitations of their ego stories.

    We have to start where most people are ... so many of us have not been able (YET) to peel away the stories of the false self and transcend a fear-based, duality-based world view.

    What I am trying to say - is that Byron Katie is talking about reality at one level of being - I think you are talking about another. (Ken Wilbur's writings delineate these levels beautifully and might appeal to your eager, multi-layered mind.)

  16. Hi Delwyn: It is fascinating isn't it. I agree with all you say. My concern is that work like Byron Katie's gets dismissed by people who are already operating at a different level of consciousness, and then this fundamental rung on the ladder of consciousness development gets missed. Do you know what I am getting at?

  17. It is relatively easy for me to see the stories of others - it's mine that seem so full of truth and clarity...;o)

  18. Interesting quotation – Katie must have been a victim of gossip. It makes me think of those tween years at school. It was also fascinating to read the comments and see the different reactions. I guess I’m reading with the eyes of a mother and a writer of fiction for teens. Thanks for reposting!

    Sorry to be so slow to visit. I've been in NYC.

  19. Our stories make meaning out of our realities, even if we have to bend and twist reality to make our stories work.

    We are strange creatures.


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