We are by nature, story tellers. We tell stories to others, we tell stories to the Divine, and we tell stories to ourselves. Whether we sit down at a computer and type, put a pen to paper, go over stories in our minds, or speak words to friends and strangers, we process life and repeat what we think we have experienced through the repetition of thoughts expressed as a narrative.
Some time ago, I began this blog to share stories with anyone that would take the time to read them. Memories have been shared. Encouragement has been given. A part of my life is now on the world wide web. The telling of stories has become a part of my experience, more and more.
There is a phenomenon that comes with the writing of these stories. Most days, what I reach back into my mind and find to write about, or the encouragement or advice I give, shows up again in the following days. I do not believe I have premonitions, and I am skeptical about the fact that I am controlling events, but I do believe that what I focus on at 5 am in the morning helps determine what I see in the world the that day.
If I write about loving others, the opportunity presents itself to love someone that might seem hard to love. If I write about missing my mother, the Universe provides reminders that she is still with me somehow. And when I write about how noble it is to help others, opportunities to help others show up in my life.
This may seem crazy. It may, indeed, be crazy. What it has caused in me is not some belief that I can control the events of the world with my intention, but that I should be careful what I speak about, to others and myself, because what I focus on helps determine what I see. This is taught, in many ways, in many traditions, but when you come right out and say it, it sounds a little insane.
This is why on most mornings I meditate. This is why I have started being mindful of how I speak about another person if they are not in the conversation. This is why, when possible, if someone wrongs me, I try to surround them with love. I still get through the day. I still get things done. But I understand that there is more to living than what is immediately before us.
With this in mind, I will tell yet another story. A story which makes me cry. A story which I sometimes tell myself. If there is a lesson to be learned, you may find it on your own. Should there be a teaching at the end, you can teach it to yourself. For me, it is a story, and a lesson, but the lesson is personal.
When I was in high school and trying to find my way, my cousin Lendall came to visit our home. He was older and attended the local university. My cousin had epilepsy, but I knew very little about that condition. My mother, after speaking with him on the phone, asked me to spend some time with him. I always loved my time with him, so it was easy to say yes.
As it goes with some “to do” items in our lives, I kept putting it off, until one day, as my mother was taking a nap and I was in the living room watching television, I heard the phone ring. This was the only time I heard my mother scream with pure emotion, including the times I misbehaved. My grandfather had called her and said that Lendall had died. There was no consoling her. She actually fell out of the bed and sobbed uncontrollably. I cannot imagine losing any of my nieces or nephew.
Lendall, it was reported, had been on a farm and near a pond. The story I was told was that he had a seizure near the water and had drowned. Without my mother here to confirm, I might not be able to tell you the truth about what happened. In full disclosure.. I might not even be able to spell my cousin’s name correctly. What I do know, is that he was here, and now he is gone… perhaps. Regardless of what you think about life after this physical form, his physical form, the one I could call up and hang out with, is gone.
I remember good things about my cousin. He smiled when I walked into the room. He was the oldest of a bunch of cousins and he always made me feel like I was cool enough to hang out with a very cool bunch of relatives. I can still see him standing behind the table crammed into my grandparents tiny dining room. I miss those days. I miss him.
Whatever you take from that story is up to you. I am still not good at keeping up with family and friends. I am still consumed with my own little world. Though I try to help people as I see them, I do not check on them like I should. But this is not only a sad story for me.
For what it is worth, even if I miss seeing my cousin, I remember his sly grin, his jokes, and his impressions. When I cry for him, it is with a strange mixture of tears from both happiness and mourning. His death came before I had experienced much death, but in some ways, I believe he is with me. And if not with me, at least with my mother, in some other place, and that, knowing how much she loved him, makes me happy.
So this is the story I will tell for the day. This is what I chose to emote. This is what I believe for the moment. And may I say, in all honesty, it is what I believe “for the moment”. Some may need belief to get through life, and that is fine. Belief for me is like a foothold a climber has when scaling the face of a mountain. It serves a very good purpose, it gets you to the next phase of your journey, but you may never need it again. My beliefs will change. The Creator will not, but my belief about the Creator most certainly will.