If you’ve ever been to a reunion, high school, family, or the like, you’ve experienced the joy of shared experience. Whether it was a childhood memory with cousin Ed, a freshman year fiasco with your biology teacher, or the state championship trophy you hoisted in ’94, it is in our shared experience that we find life.
Our shared experience brings life in another way. In the sharing of our life stories with others, we invite them into our stories and therein find life. This can be as easy as giving your life story to a new friend, or as difficult as opening up the darkest parts of your soul wherein lies your deepest shame. In both cases, our shared experience brings life.
There is yet a third way to share an experience with someone: through a book. When you pick up a biography you share in a life. With a poem, you view the world through the lens of it’s wordsmith author. And in fictional tales, you feel the warmth of love, the dark night of loss, and the cathartic sensation of resolution just when all seemed lost.
Two Ways to Live
The choice is yours. You can either turn inward, hide in the shadows of your personal narrative, and wait it out as the plot of your life drudges on. Or you can turn outside yourself, bring your pains, joys, and journey into the light, and learn what it means to trust and rest in the friendly embrace of another.
A first step towards this kind of loving dependence (indeed, independence isn’t the ideal) might be to pick up a book and share in the story of someone else, real or imagined. We learn from the experience of others and this shapes the way we navigate the tumultuous waters in our own lives. Stories on a page speak into our lives and help us to step outside ourselves. But don’t stop there.
When you’re ready, and trust me you are, share your story with someone. You can write it down in a book for someone to pick up and read. Or better yet, you can tell someone: let your wife, sibling, parent, pastor, or friend in on what it feels like in your day to day narrative, and I’m pretty sure you’ll find resolution.
If you missed it, you should read Part 1 too: Stories and Resolution