We like it when life makes sense, when events connect like corner puzzle pieces. We prefer it when there is no room for ambiguity.
We so want order and meaning that sometimes we unconsciously make it up, we fill in the holes with interpretation and speculation because having an answer, any answer, puts us at ease.
As Brené Brown shares in Rising Strong, “in the absence of data, we will always make up stories. It’s how we are wired. In fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is part of our most primitive survival wiring. Meaning making is in our biology, and our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense…Unfortunately, we don’t need to be accurate, just certain.”
I spin tales that I tell myself all the time. With a simple look or a sigh I can read volumes into what I am sure my husband, my friend, my boss is thinking. And while sometimes I may be right. I can just as easily be wrong and yet I am making decisions based on a story I’ve created that may not be entirely, or even remotely, based in reality.
Earlier this week, a friend of mine experienced a loss. A young friend of hers died.
From the Facebook posts and photos shared the grief is heavy and the answers few. You can almost feel the weight of the expanses held open with unanswered questions. I wonder how these friends will start to fill in the spaces with their own stories in an effort to make sense of it all. I worry that process might make moving forward even more arduous.
Byron Katie’s The Work offers four questions. The first two are the same question but telling yourself the truth can be so hard it sometimes needs to be asked twice:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Are there that many things you “absolutely” know are true?
Struggles and sadness are part of life for all of us. That is true.
But it’s not everything. That is absolutely true.
There is aways goodness to be found. Sometimes it’s a $5 bill found in a coat you haven’t worn since last season; other times it’s the experience of excitement at the start of a big day.
Today, I am reminded to take in the little comforts; to not fill in the blanks with what may not be “absolutely true;” and at times darkness is the only spotlight to the many other blessings around.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G