Tag Archives: creation

It’s Just a Story

Life-is-about-creating-yourself

I am sitting in a rocking chair by a window in my bedroom with a light blanket over my legs and my laptop on my lap. On the window sill is my plant, a tall plant whose identity I still don’t know though I’ve had it for years, and a plastic cup I use to water it once a week. Also on my window sill is the book I’ve been reading for the past few days, “The Voice of Knowledge” by Miguel Ruiz.

I’ve just finished reading chapter Five, a chapter that has inspired me so much that I had to put it down in order to write about it. Chapter Five is called “The Storyteller.” Without going into a lot of detail about the entire chapter, I can say that there is one theme which stood out to me, that rang true to me in my own journey towards expressing myself authentically and it is that in order to change the story of that which is happening around you, you must first change the story of the main character, that character of course, being you.

“The only way to change your story is to change what you believe about yourself. If you clean up the lies you believe about yourself, the lies you believe about everybody else will change. Every time you change the main character of your story, the whole story changes to adapt to the main character.”

As someone who subscribes very heavily to the influence of literature and storytelling, (ie bookworm) this approach seems to check out on many levels.

My mother actually sent this book to my husband for Christmas over a month ago but I quickly began reading it before him because I was curious and familiar with Ruiz’ other works which I love. But more specifically, I have been having some painful run ins with outmoded stories I tell myself about myself in order to function “safely” in the world but which no longer apply and perhaps never did.

We all tell ourselves our own story and create our own realities for different needs but most of all is the need to connect with others and to identify and distinguish ourselves based on systems created for us long before we ever arrived.

Most of us create our worlds unconsciously moment to moment, accepting, absorbing, assimilating, in much the same way they we lapse into a dream, never really remembering where it all started. In Ruiz’ native Toltec culture it is believed that our lives are a dream as well and that the act of thinking is the way we go about creating our dream, our life. Because so much about what we believe about ourselves is a lie, we often find ourselves in situations that do not serve our true nature. But since we believe that these lies are truth, are reality, there isn’t much we can do change it.

My truth, my story, the song I play myself over and over on the daily goes a little bit like this:

I’m shy so I can’t_________

I’m flakey so I can’t__________

Something bad will happen if I say or do_________

I’m not business minded enough

I will never have enough money

I’ll never finish

I don’t have enough ______________

I’m too old for that

I can’t focus

I am not worthy of having the kind of experience I desire

I can’t admit that I don’t understand

I can’t have ____ until I have ______

If I don’t have these things by this age I’m a failure

If I don’t desire ______ then something is wrong with me

Or some variation of these. I’m sure one or two of these sound familiar to you. Are you comforted by these admissions? Do they make you feel connected? Relieved? Judgmental? Disappointed?

According to Ruiz, we all have the power to change our stories, to modify and shift them, by changing what we believe about ourselves. Now I’ve heard some version of this before but when you’re really up against creating change in deepest parts of yourself, those lies don’t always go down without a fight. I have felt that fight inside myself and it has manifested itself in many ways. Mini meltdowns, tears, laughter, rage, silence, but always there has been a resistance in my spirit to backing down or to sinking permanently into the deluded comfort of self defeat.

It’s weird.

I’m not even sure how to explain it but it has a lot to do with understanding what success and happiness mean for you. Not the story you’ve been told about it, by your family, your government, your friends, your television, your horoscope or the internet, but for you, the main character in the story of your life. How well do any of us really know what we want? We are not as well acquainted with ourselves as we would like to think. What we are well acquainted with are the stories we’ve been told since birth and never had a real hand in writing.

And let me be clear. I think all stories are beautiful. I would even go as far as saying that they are all necessary to some extent, otherwise why would they exist? But the fact is i’ve been holding on to a lot of stories about myself that just aren’t true. They’re not even mine!

I’ll give you a few guesses who they do belong to…

Who Run the World?

My commute to work is not very long at all. Twenty minutes, maybe thirty if there are service delays. So this morning while I was immersed in the world of “Americanah” I got a little sad when I looked up and saw that I was already at my stop.

I had been listening to “Run the World” and “Superpower” on my phone while reading Ifemelu’s blog post on “Why Dark-Shinned Black Women–Both American and Non-American–Love Barack Obama.” I was still remembering the amazing time I had last night at Open Expression in Harlem. The feature, a powerful and giving woman, Naa Akua who was accompanied by two others, “Royalty” and “A Lyric” who sang a song about beautiful dark and cinnamon skin and invited us all to join in was still coursing through my memory. The second to last Thursday of every month for over two years now, we have come together to share and create and be inspired by our own worlds.

I remember raging against Beyonce’s audacity with everyone else when “Run the World” came out. I was tired of hearing women referred to as girls. Plus which, I thought it strange to assert something that to me was obviously a lie when we know who really runs the world.

But…ahem

I had never really listened to the song.

I ADMIT IT! OKAY? This was before my full on Beyonce love and appreciation.

But one evening this week I was playing Pandora on my stereo (I don’t listen to the radio anymore) and when “Run the World” came blasting on I stood at full attention. And I was up and dancing and totally elated, a reaction that has become very familiar to me with regard to many Beyonce songs. I don’t even think about it. I’m just up! When it was done, I bought it on iTunes. Heard it, believed in it, needed it on my life.

Needed it in my life!

And I thought to myself while listening to it, aren’t we supposed to act as if in this world if it’s not the way we need it to be?White people create their own realities constantly, without even being aware of it. They play their reality like a perpetual number one hit song, pumping it into the veins of the masses, which is how indoctrination works. It is not the sharing of any truth with the sacred intent of enlightenment and movement but a force feeding of falsities, and fabrications for the purpose of control.

In “Run The World” Beyonce is celebrating achievements made and yet to be made by girls and saying, fuck a day when! We run this now! How else will little Black and Brown babies believe if there isn’t someone out there powerful enough to sing their praises so everyone can hear it the way A Lyric did last night? My mom ran my world. And damned if mothers don’t run our worlds as children period! I mean, what if Beyonce is right? I think she is. I think that perhaps the reason why it’s so hard for us as women to believe it when someone tells us we run shit is because we don’t even understand our own power. We say it’s a man’s world because that’s what patriarchy requires us to do in order to reap empty promises. And we fall in line.

You know that old “Behind every great man…” line right? Everybody does. It’s meant to make women feel revered and recognized about being behind the scenes and never really being seen. “Yes, he was a great man but he would not have been anything without this great woman behind him.”

Well if women are so powerful behind the scenes, what would happen if we stepped out front? Oh that’s right. We would get torn down and ripped to shreds by other women, the women who still behave unconsciously on behalf of white male, patriarchy that is. That little white man dancing invisibly in our heads will never give us what we need. We have to create what we need for ourselves. But first we have to know what that need truly is. Figuring out what we need as women of color in this world is a journey, a work in progress which is changing the world with every passing minute.