We are all our book: we have the ability to rewrite it, to underline our identity and also to tear out those pages that are useless, that hurt or make the story of our life too heavy. We always leave pages blank, because you always have the opportunity to start new chapters….
Borges said that there are those who cannot imagine a world without birds, those who cannot imagine it without water and those who, on the other hand, cannot imagine it without books. Well, something that all books we have read teach us, and that shapes part of our personality, is that we are all a story. To exist means to form part of a magical fabric in which to become the authors of an argumentative thread that develops and is written every day.
However, and here one of the most obvious problems arises, too often we think we are subject to a single narrative line, to the classic structure composed of introduction, plot and conclusion. Nobody told us that, in reality, the book of our life does not always have a logical order, there are chapters that remain in the middle, paragraphs that we have to delete and rewrite and many pages that it is good to delete so that the plot makes more sense.
On the other hand, we must also take into account that the book of our life has complete meaning only for one person: ourselves. Every experience, every encounter, every decision made, every sensation, caress, thrill or randomness experienced has a special meaning for us that no one else can understand. Logic resides in our chaos, in our book made up of disordered chapters and continuous full stops and ends the best of stories ever written is hidden: ours.
When there is no other solution than to rewrite our book
Joan Didion is a famous writer who is often referred to as “the white whale of North American non-fiction”. Today she is 82 and one of the few authors to have used writing for an interesting purpose: to bring loved ones back to life. In December 2003, after returning home from the hospital, where her daughter was hospitalized, Didion’s husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, suddenly died in the living room of their home.
A few months later, her daughter also died of pneumonia. After these events, and for 88 days, Joan Didion wrote continuously and frenziedly her most famous book: The year of magical thought . Psychiatrists and psychologists define magical thinking as a mental attitude in which people come to believe that their thoughts can influence the development of certain events. Joan Didion hoped that her family would be with her again, that she would come back to life …
Of course this did not happen, but the book was published and Didion understood that it was time to start a new chapter: that of real life. Writing had served her as a catharsis, as a means by which to channel the pain. Nevertheless, life had to go on, it required her to continue to breathe, to continue and write new pages, to follow the rhythm of existence as it did with the words and phrases she wrote.
Three ways to rewrite our history and embrace the future
At the beginning of the article we talked about the importance of always keeping blank pages in our personal book. Those perfect and empty sheets are the opportunities to create a future full of hope, to open the way to other stories, new chapters, exciting and happier.
It is not always easy to realize this opportunity, that of rewriting ourselves. A traumatic childhood, family drama, infidelity or loss make us think very often that the book of our life has ended with that last and terrible chapter.
Let’s look at three strategies that can help us change this view:
Take care of the past to better write future chapters
The first step consists of an inner and delicate process, that of reviewing one’s vital chapters. We must be able to evaluate in a real and objective way the texture of our life, that cycle from childhood to the present. It is important that in this first stage we avoid looking for or remembering those responsible for each of the things that have happened to us, leaving aside the guilty ones. We have to focus on ourselves, on how we see those stages.
Healing. In this second stage we must accept that changing the past is impossible, but that we can change our attitude towards the past. The time has come to break the bond with pain, to accept, forgive and heal our present selves from the wounds of the past.
The third step of this journey is the most special: we need to add blank pages to our book. This can be achieved in different ways, because we are talking about starting over, about the opportunity to experiment and give ourselves new things: new friends, new projects, new environments, new passions …
As we grow up and mature, we realize a very important thing: new beginnings keep us united with life, allow us to embrace real happiness, tangible happiness and, above all, that according to our needs. We must find the courage to write the book we want, the one that identifies us.
Images courtesy of SIUM and Soizick Meister