My wife and I have a gigantic picture collage by our dining room table. It measures 3′ x 12′ and holds dozens of pictures, all black and white. We were hosting friends for a meal earlier this week, and they started to ask about the pictures. Some are just images of simple beauty, but most of them have an intricate tale behind them–a moment of happiness or a vivid image or a deep piece of ourselves manifested for a perfect instant in time.
We love these stories. We’ve told them a dozen times to friends and replayed them hundreds of times for ourselves. They are a deep and important part of who we are.
There are an infinite number of stories we could choose to tell. But we have structured our lives so that we can remember and retell this particular set of stories. These are stories that speak to who we were in a moment when we were at our best. We hang the reminders on our walls and over our doors so that we can be the people in these stories as much as possible: people who are filled with love, who believe in things larger than ourselves, who relish adventure, and who find our joy in the beauty of nature and the company of friends and family.
And here’s the amazing thing: we have the reminders because we told the stories. We have the pictures because we went on the hikes with our parents, snuck up on the penguins at the beach, joined the skydiving team, and took the horseback riding safari. If we hadn’t thought of ourselves as the kind of people who do these sort of things, we wouldn’t have the pictures to prove it. If we hold on to the stories long enough, they write themselves into truth.
It’s so easy to forget that we choose our own stories. And it’s a frightening responsibility, to be sure.
So write your stories well: they’re almost certain to be true.