What’s Your Story?

I was watching the movie Australia with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman over the weekend and one of the things that came up is the idea of our personal story.  They suggested that our story is one of the most important things we have to give, or leave behind – I’m expanding the idea here.  But what does it mean to have a story?  It’s an intriguing notion, and one I’d like to have a look at today.

Is our story something that is predestined, or something that we pick up along the way?  For example, if I had stayed in England, instead of immigrating to Canada, would I still be a writer today?  Or would I have fallen into something else?  I certainly would have been married to someone else, had different children, and a different set of friends. I may even have grandchildren today.

Perhaps story is something that we discover towards the end of our life?  Do we look back and say, “Oh yes that is who I am – a combination of this and that?”  While watching the TV show Castle, the daughter Alexis, was worried about her future.  While the father Richard, knew he was going to be a writer from an early age, Alexis still couldn’t see her future.  Richard told her that one day she will look back at her life and see that all roads lead her to wherever she ends up.  This suggests to me that our story is always in the process of unfolding to a particular destination.
When I think of story, I liken it to writing a novel.  You create a protagonist and give him or her a set of characteristics, then you place them in a time period, a country, and into a certain set of circumstances, and see what happens.  Whatever does, is based on the protagonist’s characteristics.  Take my character Grace, in my novel, River of the Stick Wavers.  She has lost her husband and has to learn to live without him.  Her ultimate goal is to learn independence.  This comes out of the essence of her character.  Another character may have given up.  But wherever we place Grace, at the French River, or Paris, her story will entail learning to live without her husband because of the characteristics she has been given. The details would change, but the outcome would be the same.   Could this be story?  The way in which we live out our lives based on our characteristics?

Now the question remains, why is story so important?  I don’t know about you, but I want to be remembered, not for the money I left behind, but for the way I lived my life – my story.  I want my children to think of me and remember that I was a person who helped others.  Someone who tried to overcome her fears.  Someone who was loving, open-minded, and wanted to make a difference in the world.  I like to think that whether I lived in England or Canada, that the essence of my character would have been the same.  And the decisions I made would have come out of who I am at the very heart of my being.  For example, I would probably have had to deal with anxiety and fear wherever I ended up living.  But the person that I am, would have wanted to overcome that anxiety and fear.  I would have made the same choice.  Interesting to think about.

However we look at the idea of a having a story, it is an important part of who we are. Money runs out, but story is something that will have an impact on our children, on their children, and hopefully on the people who come into your life along the way.  Essentially, the story you live today will live on in perpetuity.  Perhaps you might even consider it as a way to be immortal.  So, what story kind of story would you like to leave behind?

Categories: Memoir

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