Your story is boring, repetitive, and fixed. You tell it the same every time the same way, and it gives you a life of gloom and doom, an ever narrowing, ever more impoverished version of the Life you could have.
This article is about blowing some life into your story, so you can have more life.
“Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them.” – Allan Gurganus
Gurganus is right. The truth happens to everyone, but stories only happen to people who can tell them. And tell them well…
Professor Sexton recently told me about a new definition of reality known as the antenarrative: Ante: prior to, Narrative: the story. Prior to the story. Most of us miss it… it gets completely replaced by the story.
The antenarrative is the story that no one can tell.
Not even the people who were there. It is chaotic, without logic and disconnected. It is the way things actually happen. If you ask all the people present, all will tell a different story.
Narrative, the story, is crafted in retrospect.
A storyteller assembles selected puzzle pieces in 20/20 hindsight; the beginning, middle and end of the tale are now a foregone conclusion. If the storyteller chooses skillfully and arranges the antenarrative pieces artfully, his story will sparkle with fairy dust. If the storyteller chooses predictably and organizes the pieces chronologically, the story will smell like cat food. Your stories about your life smell like cat food.
Antenarrative happens to everyone. But stories only happen to people who can tell them. Ernest Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for making the narrative of his finely-crafted fiction feel as unvarnished and rough-hewn as antenarrative. In speaking of The Old Man and the Sea, he said,
“In stating as fully as I could how things really were, it was often very difficult and I wrote awkwardly and the awkwardness is what they called my style. All mistakes and awkwardnesses are easy to see, and they called it style.” – Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir, p. 1981
After the fact knowledge is always troublesome. When I ask you what happened, I get your interpretation, I get your platitudes, generalities, your opinion about what happened, instead of what happened, or at least the story, the narrative of what happened. This is not something you can work with and make it useful, especially when you want to go back and alter the story so the ending can be different… You could, you know.
Other teachers do voodoo to change your beliefs. In the work I do we change the story to tell. Beliefs cannot be worked on effectively, stories are. When you work on the story you alter your life.
This is the work we did in my very first program I created almost 30 years ago: Playground, it is never too late to have a happy childhood.
It was my simplest and most effective program to date.
It was a group program where people retold their life, under guidance, and by exacting precision, to get the “antenarrative” out from under the story, from under all the interpretations.
The Playground altered the telling of the past sufficiently that the future could alter with it.
Tiny alteration, huge changes.
I myself went from architect hating every minute of working, to celebrated publisher, having more fun that I knew what to do with. Others halved their weight, turned their businesses around, found their soul mate, got married, seemingly without wanting to.
When the story changes your present changes, your future changes.
Much like in the movie “Back to the Future”. In the movie the actual happening, the antenarrative changed, that is why it’s a fantasy movie. But in a group like the Playground, you only detect the antenarrative, that you have buried under the story, and craft a better story from it.
I am interested in creating a group, Playground, again. If you are interested, please let me know in the comments… so I can notify you when I have am ready to launch.
- Quoted, with my notes, from the monday morning memo. Listen to the original story: http://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/newsletters/listen/2125