Live a Great Story

635695050015389976-1205142947_letter-to-meIn the car this morning I was struck by four words on a poster along the road that simply said: “Live a Great Story.” It stuck with me as I drove, thinking what an insightful reminder, to own the story and remember that we each have one that unfolds every day.

Our stories have key characters, plot lines and backdrops. Some of us are in the first act, with many unknowns as we are getting launched. While others are in later acts, when more is revealed and some story lines have to be cut or rewrites happen, when we create and refine to build momentum and change the story at some mid-point.

Joseph Campbell calls this A Hero’s Journey and he wrote extensively about what he called the Five Act Structure: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and finally, the Denouement or Resolution. If we are lucky, we can experience several such journeys in one lifetime, being bold enough to start out in unknown territory, to answer the call to adventure, meeting challenges along the way—all the while learning and growing and becoming stronger and more certain of who we are and what we are made of. That’s part of the beauty of growing wiser in our years here on earth, as we realize how precious this one life is and if we live it fully, it can be enough.

There is this great exercise I have done before that really drills down to the essence of what we each want our lives to look and feel like when we are much older and on the downhill ride:

  1. Spend some time alone, maybe take a long walk or meditate and then think about your life up to now—the ages and stages that have defined you.
  2. Then pull out a piece of paper and begin writing yourself a letter today, but from your 80 year self. What would this wise person say to you? Is there an overriding theme you see emerging? What do you imagine you will know then that you don’t know now? How many new experiences will you have had to live before amassing the wisdom you hope for at 80? (Note: Be mindful not to judge or criticize. This exercise is meant to show loving kindness and compassion to allow you to impart wisdom from a deep place that is always there.)
  3. Tuck this letter away and make it a point to re-read annually, on a day that offers you significance

Life is a series of choices. In essence, these choices present our priorities and if we are honest and live authentically, we will have congruence in our words and deeds. I am feeling my inner 80-year old coming out right now, ready to write that letter!

 

 

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