What Narrative Do We Listen To?

I spent much of the time Monday and yesterday re-reading the current draft of the manuscript of my conversion book. I’ve been so busy with retreats and book talks on Growing in Love and Wisdom these last six months that it has been quite some time since I’ve looked at this manuscript. So it seemed to me useful, as I settle into ten days here at the Monastery to (hopefully) finalize the book, to take some time to just read what I’ve already put on paper.

One of the thoughts that came to my mind as I did so is this: We experience many things, many events over the course of time. The various events and experiences of our lives are in some sense unconnected until we construct a narrative of those events. Out of our experiences, we construct various narratives that explain our tendencies, our views, our ways of approaching people and things.

The (perhaps obvious) truth that became clear to me as I look back over my description of various segments of my life is that there is more than one possible narrative for any set of events. Meaning that we choose the shape of our narratives of those events. And once we do, we are affected deeply by the narratives we choose.

What I’m wondering is how carefully we examine the narratives we create? My suspicion is that once we create a narrative, we tend to see only those experiences that support that narrative, short-shrifting those that are inconsistent withe the narrative we’ve constructed. So that everything we see reinforces the story we’ve created.

That made me wonder how often we directly ask ourselves the question: What if the narrative I’ve created is false? What evidence am I looking at? And what have I ignored?

I think this is something worth thinking about.