I was sitting in a medical symposium this morning, bored to tears, when it suddenly occurred to me that everything is a story, a narrative. Each one of us is a unique narrative with a beginning and an end. In that narrative there are chapters, sub-sections, paragraphs, sentences and words. But it’s a juicy story, filled with pictures, sounds, smells and things – all bound together with drippy or red hot emotions, whatever the case may be.
Then of course there is the crossing of paths with another and the resulting sharing of the story for a time, briefly or more permanently. The really enmeshed narratives bond the individual stories along a shared path. But still, all individual narratives remain separable and unique.
The narrative however is more than a mere chronicle of life’s experiences. It is the phenomenon that confers context to experience. For without context, that which we experience would melt or blow away with the wind, leaving us no richer for the experience. Context results from the meeting of our subjectivity with what life uncovers along the path. It is the way in which we make sense of things, give life meaning and develop awareness.
Context however is not the end point of the narrative. A mosaic of many individual contexts, no matter how colorful, juicy or gratifying they each may be, still renders us bound by individual context to make sense of things. In this configuration we are relegated to bouncing from one mosaic piece to another, hopping and hoping that we land on an inspiring one and not one that wacks the life out of us! Each individual mosaic piece is our entire subjective world view while we occupy it. This state of affairs is a little risky for the maintenance of a fulfilling disposition. It’s going to be difficult to laugh in a humorous space after emerging from a scalding one. I would propose that the final component which is required to lift the narrative to a more gratifying and sustaining space is that of integration.
Lifting the game to the level of integration literally allows us to see the full mosaic in all its glory, as a mosaic. We are no longer confined to the individual components at any one time. We are no longer the prisoners of red alone until we move into the blue. With integration we are able to see all the shades of red, blue and the rest. Most importantly we know that the blue lies just on the other side of the red with even more possibilities beyond that. Integration provides the narrative with far greater awareness – of ourselves, others and the extended environment.
Returning to the story – be curious and engage; recognize and embrace context; but then strive to transcend the small increments, the fragments of the narrative, to behold the entire mosaic. Sure there will be the individual contexts of love, fear, loss and irritation. But when reminded that all is not the black of night and that the sun will rise again, love and laughter may just permeate that little bit further.
Copyright reserved – Ian Weinberg 2018