Video by: Elana Kilkenny of Alicja Kwade's "Against The Run" in Central Park, NYC
TIME TO TELL A NEW STORY
Do you have a story about yourself or your life that you know is not good for you, but is so ingrained that it plays on repeat especially when you are triggered?
Well I've had a particularly pernicious one for a long time, it's a doozy of a story actually. It's simple and deadly. Deadly, as it kills a whole lot of possibility and is a murderer of dreams. If that sounds dramatic, well maybe it is. But it is truthful. As one of my core stories for a long time had been "It's too late..."
If I was the Albert Brooks character in "Defending Your Life", having real-life scenes shown to me of how this story has played out in my life, one pivotal flashback would be of my orientation weekend at NYU. I was feeling shy and out of the loop from connecting with a core group of people and decided by the end of that weekend that "It was too late for me socially here." And guess what, core stories have great power. In many ways, it was a largely lonely four years.
Or whether, after the birth of my daughter when so much was on my plate and a part of me understandably dived-deep into overwhelm, I felt the powerful undertow of "It's too late..." "It's too late to write my book." "It's too late to grow this vocation I love so deeply and be the kind of mom I want to be at the same time." "It's too late to lose that weight." "It's too late to begin again." And so many more times that opening line would run on a virtual loop in my head, as the story itself was ingrained and persuasive. It stopped me countless of times to take necessary leaps of faith and risks, it beat me down like a skilled prizefighter's one-two punch.
It took me a while to simmer down the various stories I told myself to the essential ones that were getting in my way, so that I could make some conscious choices in my rewriting and retelling of them. But when one of my core stories of "It's too late..." was reaching it's apex, I decided to get active in my awareness of when it would pop it's tricky head up into my thoughts. And when it did, I did not meet it with anger, instead I met it with disciplined kindness. I would no longer let this story rule me, but I would listen to its primal fear and honor that most likely when it came up to the surface it was doing so because what lay beyond it was something that I desired greatly.
And so I began flipping the story around to a "What if..." story.
"It's too late to write my book", became "What if this is the perfect time for me to write my book." "What if, what was meant to birth forward in this book couldn't have been written until this now." "What if, I begin to jot down some possible chapter titles." And when I followed through on my "what ifs", my "what ifs" caught on fire. "What if I write a few pages?" "What if I write a few stories on the theme?" "What if I tell this woman I just met about my book idea, because I have this deep feeling that I should." And momentum grew, and self-imposed shackles fell to the ground, and synchronicities ensued.
So am I telling you a story that ends up at a place where I can say that "It's too late..." is a story that no longer comes up for me?
Well I'm not telling you a fairy tale, I'm telling you a true-life parable for you to see your own stories through mine. So yes, "It's too late..." is still there for me. But the promising news is that its rewrite comes fast on its heels most days.
Perceived road blocks will come, and I sometimes falter and fall under the "It's too late..." spell for a bit. The difference now being, that I don't fall under its toxic persuasion for too long. You see, I am onto the loopholes inherent in "It's too late" and concurrently my antidotes to "It's too late" are getting stronger each day.
For instance, my "What if..." antidote has freed up quantum amounts of space for me to take bite-sized to large leaps of faith to tell a new story and thereby live a new story in my life.
And then there are the glorious times where grace enters to set me straight...
A few weeks ago, I was challenged by this old refrain about a particular dream of mine. I could feel myself strongly within the grip of "It's too late..." It was doing its job remarkably well and it was a challenging few weeks. But along with these feelings of doubt, I was also feeling restless. As a part of me was working hard to rise up to see things differently and from that point-of-view to also move differently in my state of being and my actions.
So one day in the midst of this old albatross of a story, I decided to experience my relationship with time differently in an experiential way to help me shift my perception of "It's too late...".
As I've learned that another trick to living a new story is to confuse the old story by changing up a routine way of approaching it.
I was in the midst of a few weeks where I was going to a number of routine yearly medical appointments, it was necessary but not at all uplifting or inspiring. Too many grey offices, too much waiting, too much traveling back and forth in the freezing cold to parts of Manhattan that I don't like, too much waiting for results and too many subways. So one day, instead of rushing to an appointment out of habit, I realized I had time to forgo public transportation and walk across town. As I did so, I marveled at how this small act of changing my patterned path of traveling underneath the city to walking through the city altered my entire energy and perception of where I was heading.
In the midst of this walk, I heard a whisper in my heart, "Change your relationship to time my dear and your life will change."
At that very moment, I looked up and noticed this strange and enchanting clock at the foot of Central Park. I thought I had fallen through the looking glass as the hands of this large clock were going backward.
I stopped in my tracks and laughed out loud with a promise to myself "I'm changing my relationship with time...starting now."
I knew I was in the presence of synchronicity, and yet, some part of my brain couldn't conceive that I wasn't imagining this somehow. The message was so magically specific and crystal clear. So I looked beyond the clock and noticed a sign explaining that this was a piece of public art by Alicja Kwade and I was amazed by the grace of what I read. The clock is actually telling the correct time, but the artist intends for us to see our "reality" from a new perspective.
The truth is that I didn't leave Central Park that day having it all figured out about how and if this particular dream of mine would indeed come to fruition. But I did leave the park having made a quantum leap away from my entrenched "It's too late..." perception of this dream. And I did leave with restored faith and conviction that I did need to perceive time differently and, in doing so, there is more fertile space within me for this dream to birth.
And that just might make all the difference in the world.
OVER TO YOU:
What core stories are no longer serving you? How can you rewrite that story to serve you in a positive way? Join me in the comments below!