Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Telling Life: The things we carry

I don't know about you, but I have a deluxe engraved luggage set. I received the first piece when I was very small and have been adding to it steadily ever since. While it's not terribly practical - I can't carry anything in it - and it's quite heavy, it is at once one of my most guarded and most hated possessions.

You know what I'm talking about, of course. It's not real luggage but the baggage we all carry, simply from having been born into a world and families populated with other human beings. We acquire wounds, scars, habits and more that can weight us down, hence baggage. All of this has an impact on our whole lives, including our storytelling lives.

I find it worthwhile to remember this. If I'm struggling with a particular story; if I find myself resisting a certain kind of audience; if I get grumpy about a given work task, it's useful if I ask myself why? Sometimes it will be only that I'm tired. Other times it may be that the person who hired me is vaguely similar to that kid who bullied me in grade school, so old patterns and reflexes are at play. Or maybe now is not the time for me to attend a performance based on, for example, the loss of a spouse to cancer, because it is too triggering for me.

Understanding our own baggage gives us a chance to live more fully realized lives. Knowing that I simply dislike certain aspects of my work is useful. Recognizing that I am reminded of something challenging by something innocuous helps me moderate my responses. And knowing that a particular type of experience may have lasting repercussions gives me a chance to choose if I want to engage in it and pay the cost.

If we take the time to ask ourselves why we are drawn to or repelled by a given part of our storytelling lives (or any part of our whole lives, really) we can make better choices. We can choose to undertake a task knowing it will be challenging. We can choose to try to put down some of our baggage. Or we can can choose to let an opportunity go, knowing it will have significant impact on our internal lives. None of these responses are unreasonable if we have a sense of who we are and what we bring with us to the experience.

We all have baggage. We don't have to be controlled by it most of the time though there will always be times when we carry the whole damned set and don't even realize it. A little mindfulness can help though. By living a mindful life and least looking for and understanding potential triggers, we can become artists with greater authenticity, humans who are more honest with ourselves and those around us, and create a a world that is more connected, more interesting and more supportive of who we are and our work.

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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