Thursday, June 26, 2008

Myth? Oh myth, where are you?

Sometimes it feels as though I'm missing something, as though a vital part of my life has slipped away and is taking a vacation without me. This tends to happen when I'm overstressed, overtired, too busy and fretful to pay attention to what's happening inside of me because I'm distracted by what's happening outside of me. When I'm in this state I tend to read lots of light stuff, fun fluff. I putter a lot. I don't keek as much as my nature would incline me to. It's easy to coast along like this, feeling as though I'm half here because it's too hard to go looking for the rest of myself.

When I finally notice I'm not present I can do a couple of things. I might shrug and pick up another fun, inconsequential book. Likely something I've already read. Something I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I've read, let alone read more than once. But it's distracting. 

Or I might sink even further, decide all is lost and watch tv instead.

But. If I'm lucky, if I notice when the moon is in the right phase, when the stars are aligned, when the gods are smiling just enough, I might try to do something about it. There are a few cures that work, but the one I want to talk about here has to do with story.

The really old stories, the ones that begin with Once upon a time and A long time ago have stuck around for a lot of good reasons. To begin with, many of them are just really good stories. You knew that already, I know. But just think about it - all of those human elements are there, and those old stories map out for us how to live, or not live, our lives.

Death (and who knows what comes after).
Even boredom and the routine of daily life.

Everything about what it is to be human is recorded in those old, old tales. 

We really haven't changed all that much. We may engage in all of those activities at a faster pace thanks to the technology around us, but we are still essentially the same animals we were thousands of years ago.  

What does this have to do with my missing self? When I am clever, after noticing I'm not all here, I go to the old stories. I go to In the beginning and immerse myself in that sense of deep time. I fill up with all of those symbols that help provide meaning to what it is to be human, I remind myself that I am merely one small instant in this long, long story. And slowly I am filled up again, slowly I become a hospitable environment for myself. I remember to look and see the world. Notice the leaves. Hear the stories around me. Smell the summer. Just as humans have been doing forever.

It's not an instantaneous process, it's not foolproof, but it's something. I have to keep redirecting myself, but god! the whole world is there for me in those stories. It's there for you too. Take them in, then let them go, recreate them in your own image and rediscover who you are now. You may be surprised.

Stories feed us and sustain us if we let them. 

(c) 2008 Laura S Packer
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1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you mean, there are times when I must remove the book, Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from my shelf and read these ancient stories...they somehow meet the need.


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