Everything is a story.

Everything is a story.

Byron Brumbaugh Symbol Top

I am a writer.  I tell stories.  I am a human being.  I live stories.  As I live, I perceive my experiences, I understand them, through the stories I tell myself.  In fact, everything I think I know is nothing more than a story I tell myself.  Even the perceptions I have are just stories.  By the time I am aware of something happening to me, I have already “storified” it.  I objectify my world, imbue motivations to people I encounter, I permeate my world with values that would not otherwise be there.  Everything is a story.

I have been trained as a scientist.  First as a theoretical physicist, then as a Physician.  Some may believe that science gives us a window into truth.  That it tells us what is real and what is not.  No scientist who is worth his salt would claim this.  Science models the universe, it does not reveal reality.  These models have patterns that map our experiences.  If these patterns parallel what happens to us, they are good models.  But they are only models.  How could it be otherwise?  Our puny minds could never contain what is true.  Truth is much too vast, much too complicated.  The magical thing is that we can, through our models, predict important events that control our lives.  These models are very useful.  But they are not reality.  They are just tools.  They are just ideas.

It seems universal that human beings want to “understand” the world, but what does it mean when we say we “understand?”  I’ve come to the conclusion that what we are saying is nothing more, nor less, than we like the stories we tell ourselves.  There are ground rules as to what makes a good story.  It has to “make sense” to us.  Any story we come up with must somehow fit in with the other stories we tell our selves.  We have a real problem with contradiction.  If there is a conflict, either we don’t understand, or we change our other stories to bring everything into congruence.

So if I believe that stories are only a lame effort at creating a parallel universe that my mind can hold all at once, why do I bother writing fiction?  Am I trying to create a model that will help me predict what will happen?  I hope not.  For me, reading or writing fiction is an attempt to broaden and deepen my experience beyond what I live.  Fiction allows me, through imagination, to approach alternatives by posing “what if?”  It’s not meant to give feeble answers.  It is meant to ask questions and explore connections.  It’s an attempt to try to get me outside of myself and see the world through others’ eyes, through others’ minds, through experiences other than those I’ve lived.  It’s not a means I use to seek truth.

We, as a species, can, perhaps, best be described as story-tellers.  That’s what we do.  With every breath, with every thought, in every moment, we tell ourselves, and everyone else, stories.  None of these stories are, strictly speaking, true, but they are all useful.  I strongly believe that enlightenment, seeing things in their essence, is a spiritual quest, not an intellectual one.  So, I try to continually remind myself,

Everything is a story.

Some are lived.

Some are told.

Byron Brumbaugh Symbol Bottom

Posted by Byron Brumbaugh in Meditations, 0 comments