Recently, my 10 year-old son finished reading a book called The Hunger Games.
Upon closing the cover, he pressed it into my hands and said, Mom, you HAVE to read this. It’s sooo good.
Well, umm… you may have heard, I’m kind of a big ol’ sucker for this child.
(Who used to be, like, 19 inches long, and right before that, who used to live in my body, people! How is it possible that we are now reading the same books?)
The idea of sharing a book with him- one I didn’t even have to read aloud- was nothing short of awesome.
Little did I know I would be so drawn into the story.
Dude, seriously. That girl Katniss is one badass little 16 year-old mofo.
(If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it and here is a brief synopsis-without-spoilers: it is a futuristic novel about an annual event called the Hunger Games, where 24 boys and girls, aged 12 to 18, are selected by lottery to participate in a fight-to-the-death competition. There is only one champion- and that is the last child still alive when it’s over. The main character is called Katniss. Yes, the badass mofo.)
And as I closed the pages, I couldn’t help thinking about what Katniss had endured, and the thoughts and ideas she had shared along the way.
Yes, yes- I know she was a fictional character. But I felt like she had sh#tloads to teach me.
About spectacular feats of bravery.
About taking bone-chilling risks.
And about loyalty. To a friend, a loved one. Or simply to someone who had once offered you a beautiful kindness.
About believing in yourself despite the odds, but certainly in response to ever-increasing evidence of your potential for success.
And about vulnerability. Letting go of pride, and falling into trust, fortified by the power of deep intuition.
Yeah, all that out of a book my kid ordered from the Scholastic catalog.
Anyway, I started thinking about what MY life would look like if someone wrote a story about it.
And after popping a Zoloft. . .
So, okay- maybe I can’t say that my life is the stuff of a page-turning action novel.
But here’s the thing.
It’s been a grand adventure so far.
Really and truly.
And I wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s. It’s exactly the life I‘ve needed to live in order to become the person I am today.
And. . .
And, from this point on, as with all points that went before, I have the option to craft the story of this magnificent life any way I want to.
Isabelle Allende once said, You are the storyteller of your own life and you can create your own legend or not.
This means two things to me.
Thing #1: Choices
We have the ability (and, in my opinion, responsibility) to make choices on a heartbeat-to-heartbeat basis that will allow us to step into the future we desire.
One summer, when I was signing my son out of his summer camp, I looked up to see a banner that said, Let the choices you make today be choices you can live with tomorrow.
The inevitability that what we choose today will come back to haunt (or delight!) us tomorrow.
Karma. Of the non-instant variety.
Thing #2: Memories
A lesser-noticed meaning of a quote like Isabel Allende’s is this.
What just happened a few seconds ago didn’t necessarily go down the way your mind is telling you it did.
Dan Gilbert wrote a fantastic book a few years ago called Stumbling On Happiness.
(No, my son and I haven’t shared that one yet.)
In the book, he shares several studies that have been done to determine whether the mind is either a reliable tool for determining what will make you happy in the future or for helping you to remember what made you happy in the past.
The results of these studies are astonishing.
Not only do we not remember correctly how our lives have played out (subjects in the studies couldn’t accurately remember events that had taken place moments before- much less years), but by telling the story of how these events have played out, we are even less likely to remember them correctly.
Because that was a bit of a lengthy sentence, allow me to restate it.
We can’t remember shit about what has happened in our lives.
Our brains, which are fantastic at helping us to remember where we live, what our families’ faces look like, and the difference between a toothbrush and a towel, cannot be relied upon to accurately portray events and circumstances that have happened in our lives.
Armed with that tasty tidbit of scientific knowledge, I’ve been on a mission for the past few years to not only reconstruct (or is it deconstruct?) my ‘sad childhood’, but to reframe the events that are happening in my life on a moment-by-moment, heartbeat-to-heartbeat basis.
Which means that, as soon as a thought enters my mind that goes something like
I wish I had…
Why didn’t he…?
This isn’t fair…
How dare they…
I know that it is within my power, completely and absolutely, to reframe that thought. To rewrite the moment that just passed.
No, not ‘rewrite’. I take that back.
To ‘de-write’ it.
To ask myself whether I’ve been spinning a yarn or whether I’m actually swimming in the clear + sparkling waters of Reality.
And when I shine a bright light on each and every one of the tiny, bejeweled moments of my life…
I realize I am one badass mofo.
What about you?