The stories that give our lives meaning

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Rather than viewing transitions as the stories of my life, I have let them devour me. From my perspective, life’s disruptions to the status quo were to be swept under the rug, hidden from view lest they reflected badly on my choices. Losing a job, relationship or perfect health could translate to stories that are a source of strength and an opportunity to connect with others on a personal level. But I have pushed through transitions like a racehorse pushes through the finish line.

I guess you can call this post a review of a review. I was inspired by Arianna Huffington’s LinkedIn post, which is a synopsis of Bruce Feiler’s book, “Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age.”

We go through stuff (unemployment, illness, bankruptcy, death and divorce) and then want to ban from memory the experience that causes pain, humiliation and despair. If only life were limited to success stories, and we could obscure failures or traumas. Maybe we need to change the vantage point. Rather than giving power to life’s disruptions by allowing them to break us down, they can become stories of perseverance, resilience and serendipity where the outcome is a badge of honor, not a mark of shame.

Feiler references transformation in the context of religion and great art that produces insight, creativity and innovation. Relating to this on a pedestrian level, what would a sitcom, movie or book be without the transition from loveless to love, illness to health, rags to riches or the reverse?

Looking back at my own experience, I see a trope of transitions rejected because they represented who I was and no longer want to be. Allowing those transitions to evanesce bolstered the illusion that I am who I have always been. I have not been looking to put my growth on display but instead to be seen as something better than I am. Don’t women do their hair and makeup, and walk out the door hoping people will think they woke up that way?

I have stories untold. Now I am thinking I should write more often to give the transitions of my life shape and purpose without filtering them through a moral compass. Perhaps I will discover that they are not my stories alone.