One evening not long ago a friend’s post on social media really got my attention. Reshaped from a couple of years prior, the post was a picture of soup along with a comment about the event of soup-making; my friend had spent time with a community group she is part of, making soup for a funeral. That was it: no people, just an enormous pot of soup. And that got me thinking about how these moments are the essence of how we experience and perceive life; the communities that we become part of inform our answers to basic questions about the world. Is it a good place? Will my needs be met? Where is my place in this world?
There’s a cycle of community and relationship. We project, reflect, revise, renew, re-engage. Refresh. Rekindle. Repair. Cycles go back to the beginning of me, eventually. I close my eyes and see such beautiful moments/memories: the neighbourhood of my childhood where we wandered unfettered by rules and restrictions. Wild, free, and aching for boundaries we lived dangerously. I have scars to prove it, each a story for another moment. That’s the outer story, what the world could see had they been looking, the moments that I share when I get nostalgic or feel compelled to explain a scar. It (the outer story) is just one part of what I carry.
I also have other stories, inner stories, anything but bright; the layers of these stories are still (slowly) peeling away. (I’m reminded of post-it notes, the ones that pop up one after the other. Like those notes after years in a drawer, some story is crumpled and hard to read. I try although some mag be better not examine too hard, simply examined and left to be. The inner stories are the pieces of life that reflected darkness that wasn’t mine but into which I was dragged from time to time, a place with no safety nets. Dragons lived here, sometimes sleeping and other times awake, sometimes peaceful and other times pursuing me. Dragons will do that. It’s not our fault if they do, is it?
Even though we keep them shut away it’s important to acknowledge the more powerful stories, and the trauma stories. And important to support and partake in work to set stories where they belong. Sometime we were tangled into other stories through no fault of our own, kind of like when you walk through the background of someone’s picture. Wrong place, wrong time. It happens. But still, I was there.
My sense of self exists within these stories and how I’ve been able to recognize moments that have marked a change in me. Moments that have revealed answers to big questions. Also, too, I recognize the moments that brought uninvited but necessary change. Moments, connected to stories, connecting to community that ties me to myself. This is the magic of stories: they’re where we find ourselves.