All right, I’m duly warning you readers that this is going to be long. Put your feet up, grab a pack of Skittles, and prepare.
So. This week we are forbidden to express or even to have opinions. It’s fairly easy for me to stop myself from expressing negative opinions, but I have a habit of expressing positive opinions. I’ve been watching my adjectives and adverbs, and instead of stating what something is, I state my feeling. For example: instead of saying, “That’s a great idea!”, I say, “I like that idea”. Also, usually I go around complaining about the temperature in the fall, because I get cold easily. But now instead of stating that “it’s cold”, I say “I’m cold”. I find myself making less blanket statements and thinking a little more about other perspectives – which I sometimes have to do to realize that the statement I’m thinking is actually an opinion. You know, this trash bag feels gross to me, but a starving person could see it as a source of food.
I also had an instance where someone asked me to do something that I don’t particularly like to do. So I mentally rioted and thought I don’t want to do this, I don’t like doing this…and because I don’t like feeling akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum either inside or outside my head, I asked, Well, why don’t I like doing this? I figured I would justify my dislike and make myself sound reasonable instead of infantile. Because it’s [this] and [this] and…WHOA. Hello, no opinions, remember? Now, why don’t I like it? Well…I have no opinions. And my opinions were the basis of my dislike. Humph. I guess I just don’t like it. But my dislike is unjustified now, so I’ll just view it as something that needs to be done that I’m going to do regardless of how I feel. BAM. (Just to clarify, I was going to the do it anyway – just with mental complaints.)
Here is the first of two epiphanies. On the webinar on Sunday, Mark talked about the (general) different thoughts and dreams of men and women concerning time. He said that men usually think and dream about the past more. Old girlfriends, old experiences, etc. True in my experience with the men in my life – most of the men I know loooove to tell stories about their past! Mental check mark for that. Then he said that women usually think and dream about the future and relationships more. Yup! I’m a girl! So true for me! Next, he said that although both past and future are valuable, it won’t really do us much good to focus primarily on them. Well, I still didn’t get it, so I sat there thinking, “Ok, so should women think about the past more and men think about the future more so there’s a balance? No, that doesn’t seem to fit because he said neither past nor future was what we needed…so what do we need to think about???” And then he says, “the present”. Me: “OH!” *light bulb* But it’s SO true! I think and dream about the future all the time, but a lot of times I don’t focus on really living my best in the present. I tend to look forward to things more than enjoying the present – unless the present is something that I’ve been looking forward to.
And here is the second epiphany, which came this afternoon. Below is a scene near the end of a book that is a compilation of various Grimm’s fairy tales into one unified story
There are two children, Jorinda and Joringel – brother and sister – who have been through many harrowing adventures. Their father died at their birth (yes, father, not mother), their mother was scared of making mistakes in their upbringing so she barely interacted with them, and their stepfather hated Joringel and killed him. (Reminder for those of you scratching your heads and wondering what on earth you’re reading – this is a fairy tale.) At this point in the book, the siblings are encamped in a fort in a forest with an army of children. An evil king who hates children is besieging them. It’s night. At daybreak, they all know that the king’s army is going to attack with catapults that they cannot win against. No one can sleep. So Jorinda and Joringel told their story. And they kept telling it even as the sun rose and the enemy captain yelled one last time for their surrender. But when they got to the present, they didn’t know what else to say. They didn’t know what would happen next. But their mother (whom they had been reunited with) urged them to continue telling their story. Irritated, they spoke of the strong, seemingly invincible army that lay right outside their wall. They told of the soldiers readying the catapults, of the release of the flaming boulders. And as they spoke, their words came into being. A boulder landed on a chunk of the wall, and a little girl was wounded. “Keep telling your story!” cried their mother. “What happens next?” Still confused, the two children again spoke of the inevitable: the catapults that fired and dropped their deadly missiles into the camp. Again, their words came true. “What happens now?” cried their mother again. “You’re telling the story! It’s your story!…Make something new!” And then, the children understood. So they changed their story. Instead of telling of their doom, they told of friends (ogres, ravens, and a giant-disgusting-smelly-stupid-wonderfully good-natured-kind salamander) that came to their rescue. They told of their triumph and of the defeat of the army. And once again, their words came true.
Isn’t that beautiful? Jorinda and Joringel reshaped their future. They told their own story. At first, like most of us, they only told of what seemed inevitable to them. Heck, can you blame them? They were defenseless against those catapults and fighting against a merciless evil king. Death seemed the most logical outcome. But it didn’t have to be. Why? Because they used their imagination. They hoped. They had the power – like all of us – of making their story come true, and they finally realized it and used that power for their good.
The point is not that we should try and conjure up the Eidechse von Feur, der Menschenfleischfressende (the giant salamander) to our rescue. It’s that we need to tell our own story not the way that may seem to be predetermined, but the way that we want it to be told – because whichever way we tell our story is the way it will be.