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Life Without the Story Line

May 5, 2013

Ok, ok, my mind is racing at such a speed, I hardly know where to begin.  This story comes in two parts and if I am wise I will start at the beginning.

The beginning…

Sometimes life hands you lemons from which you make lemonade and sometimes you are merely handed the lemonade….no mixing required.   My niece has quenched my thirst by  lending me a book that just might change my life….forever.  The title of the book is Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron.  I have not finished the book as yet but what I have gleaned thus far is down right exciting.

Life is full of difficult times.  These times, like all others, are inextricably linked to “the moral ambiguity of human existence” (Chirs Hedges).  To Chrodron this ambiguity is linked to uncertainty and groundlessness (life in general).  This groundlessness and uncertainty is linked to fear and the fixed ideas that we have of ourselves and the world around us.  The fear and fixed ideas are generated by the ‘story line’ that our minds are constantly creating, basically non-stop (unless, of course, you are a consummate at meditation) chatter supporting who we think we are and where we think we belong in this world.

Chrodron asks, what if we were willing to sit down and face this life of impermanence by saying “Yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human”.  What would life be like if we faced all fear and anxiety without ego or fixed identity?  What if, as she puts it, “we were to sit down and enjoy the ride?”  If we no longer responded to life habitually, supported by our story line, what then?

Chrodron gives us three instructions to begin our journey on the road to reducing pain and suffering :

Be fully present.Feel your heart.
Engage the next moment without an agenda.

Wow…. the framework for building a painting, I thought.  This book is for me!

Chrodron goes on to explain that resisting fundamental uncertainty and the need for constant okayness leads to suffering.  Embracing the framework for building a painting, well, that leads to happiness.  That is as far as I have gotten with the book but good so far, right?

Now comes the second part to my story.

This weekend is the spring art show and sale of a group of 12 professional artists of which I am one.  The night before one of these events I often run my ‘story line’ supported by the belief that my paintings are lacking, that I will likely fall short of my goal to cover my costs, that I probably have chosen the wrong frames, that I won’t measure up in this way or that…blah, blah, blah.  So, last night found me wondering “what if I were to just enjoy the ride?”  Problem was the blah, blah, blah began before I even left my bed and continued all the way to the door of the venue.  Resistance if futile, I thought.

As the day wore on I realized I was practicing being fully present.  In fact, I could feel my heart and attempted whenever I was conscious of it, to engage the next moment without an agenda.  Many of the challenges of past shows flew by not resting on my stoop.  I enjoyed the company of all of our guests even those that are thought to be difficult.

Lessons learned:  refraining from habitual behaviour and not expecting anything really, leaves the door open.  Empty mind, open door.  To top it all off I sold 3 paintings and 3 drawings!  Nice day….more tomorrow.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 6, 2013 2:51 pm

    It was great to see you at the show, Carolynn! Congratulations on your sales. I plan to come by your blog often to read your prose. I smiled at the “resistance is futile” and can certainly understand how the need for security amid the uncertainties in life makes us create stories about the world and ourselves. It is nice to be free of that sometimes.

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