I took a two day class at Tai Sophia this past weekend.  It meant leaving the house by 8 am each day and not returning home until after well after 5:30.  The class was thought provoking and heart softenting.  It was a restful, restorative way for me to spend my 48 hours away from work.  And it had real consequences for Max, the only child of a single mother. 

Max, precious Max, spent his weekend being traded like a card, being passed off, being neither here nor there in the middle of everyone’s very busy schedule. 

Sunday morning found Max at his friend Jake’s house.  He was picked up by his dad who shepherded him to his swimming class and then took him for lunch.  Juan dropped him off with my friend Michelle who took him with her kids to the park for a couple of hours.  Michelle then dropped him off with his favorite teenage babysitter Katherine.  By the time I reached him it was almost dinner time and he had been in the care of no fewer than four different families.

One of my friends was worried about Max’s day.  She thought Max would feel fractured and discombobulated.  Insecure and unrooted.  At loose ends and a little unloved.  She had me a little concerned too.

Yet, something interesting happened.  When I picked Max up he was glowing.  It was clear that Sunday had been one of his favoritest days ever.  As he recounted his day it was clear that he had experienced it not as an orphan being shuffled around  but rather as beloved child being passed gently from one set of waiting arms to another.  He had experienced it as one big epic adventure.  His conclusion was that our community was wide and deep–that he was well loved–that there were many experiences to be lived–that he could trust many.

It amazes me how the very same set of facts could elicit such different interpretations.     It reminds me that our lives are really just stories, and while we have little control over many of the events in our lives we do have the power to write our own stories about what happened as those events unfolded.  Max could have written a story about being left by his mother and schleped about no one having more than a few hours to give him.  Instead he chose to write a story about adventure, deep love and a community who cherishes him and shares him.   I would like to think he wrote a bigger story, a story that was wide and deep enough to protect him versus one that was shallow and left him feeling vulnerable.

Children are such brilliant storytellers.  They find a way to breathe magic and good into any set of events–that is until we teach them otherwise when we pass on our own tiny stories.   When we teach them that their stories are fantastical and dare I say wrong. 

Too often I find myself living in my smallish little stories.  I go about believing them for no other reason than its because I always have.  They are convenient, automatic and don’t take much brainpower.  But oh…when I look under the hood of my tender sweet soul and I see how these stories drain my heart of its power. 

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One of our favorite games here at work, when Stephen,  and I are bored and distracted, is to imagine what Winne the Pooh characters we might be that day.  So often he is Tigger with boundless energy.  I used to frequently be Piglet, often fretting but buzzy too, sometime I am Kanga nurturing and sweet.  At times I have been Rabbit, with his schemes and his plans and his bossy nature but lately I have felt that I am Christopher Robin.  Does he even really count as a character?  He has cool boots but is pretty much on the sidelines of the story, unimportant and relatively uninvolved.  That’s me, I tell myself over and over again.   The one that doesn’t matter, who is doing so little to keep this ship afloat, the one who is sitting on the sidelines.   It wasn’t until one of my favorite colleagues said to me yesterday that she was Christopher Robin that I could see how to breathe into a different story.  Suddenly I saw my own “Christopher Robin-hood” in a new light.  For Christopher is the one who carries all the animals of the Hundred Acre Woods as beloveds.  He holds the space.  Without his love there would be no story.  He is quiet and still but his love breathes life into those woods.  Just, dare I say it, like me.

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I have to admit, I have stopped and started this post, wondering where on earth this is going, how on earth I can conclude.  With a call to action?  With yet another reminder to myself to be more like my son, with yet another set of words that sneakily tell me that I am something less than perfect exactly as I am.   

It gives me pause, this dilemma, this koan, this questioning, this holding of stories that expand not contract.  Is there any way to end at story about stories?  Is there any other way than this….

And she lived happily ever after.

One Response to “Create a bigger story”

  1. Patricia Dolan Says:

    Such a sweet story….what a lovely community to be apart of…..so many arms and hands to embrace Max and you….wonderful