The story that is larger than us

Exclusion becomes more complicated when you need those whom you despise. In most cities there are ‘alien’ elements who are necessary to its functioning, from cleaning its toilets to servicing its banks.*
Richard Sennett

Jen is felt in that deeply satisfying moment when you bring out the goodness in others.**
Dacher Keltner

We are very aware of those who “celebrate” themselves, making more of themselves than they ought, but there are many more who may only realise their wonder through the generous attention of another.

Maria Popova writes of the opaqueness that exists in both the story and a life:

Because we are always partly opaque to ourselves even at our most self-aware, fiction and real life have something wonderful in common, wonderful and disorienting: the ability to surprise even the author – of the story or the life.^

I may have made the decision to set out on my own journey of discovery, but it was the different things others shared with me that has and continues to make the difference.

David Whyte describes this experience of surprise and discovery well:

A life sincerely followed is always surprising and always leads you into places you did not feel you could either enter or that you could deserve. And part of the ability to hold the silence as we move and as we tiptoe, or walk or taker our pilgrim path to another is our ability to not name things too early and to allow yourself to be surprised as to where you’ve arrived.^^

If it were possible for our life to be written as a novel, then we would discover it to be larger than the life that is presently our experience, full of undiscovered uncertainty and nuance, as Milan Kundera writes:

A novel examines not reality but existence. And existence is not what has occurred, existence is the realm of human possibilities, everything that man* can become, everything he’s capable of. Novelists draw up the map of existence by discovering this or that human possibility. But… to exist means “being-in-the-world.”  Thus both the character and his world must be understood as possibilities … [Novels] thereby make us see what we are, and what we are capable of.*^

You may feel this to be a moment for opening yourself to this story that is larger than we are:

We drift through this grey, increasingly nowhere
Until we stand upon a threshold we know
We know we have to cross to come alive once more.^*

*From Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
**From Dacher Keltner’s Born to be Good;
^Maria Popova, from The Marginalian: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Opaque to Ourselves: Milan Kundera on Writing and the Key to Great Storytelling;
^^David Whyte, quoted in The Marginalian: source lost;
*^Milan Kundera, quoted in The Marginalian: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Opaque to Ourselves: Milan Kundera on Writing and the Key to Great Storytelling;
^*From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus: For the Time of Necessary Decision.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.