A couple of day ago, I attempted to merge onto the freeway. A dilapidated but fast car in the right lane wouldn’t let me in. So I stepped on the brakes to avoid a collision.
It was a powerful moment. Because even though I was grateful we didn’t collide, I watched as I made up a story about the driver.
“He is an inconsiderate narcissistic,” I said. Then I drove a little faster to catch up, look in his window, and judge him.
Perhaps you have engaged in similar forms of storytelling….
A powerful spiritual practice is to see if we can witness the moment when facts yield to fiction.
In the scenario I described above, the facts were laws of physics. Laws regarding weight, velocity and trajectory combined to create a possible event on the freeway. Laws are true.
My thoughts about the nature of the driver’s character that leapt into my mind felt like facts. My story felt true. But it wasn’t true. It was only perception spinning a tale to offer me a false form of comfort.
Really, I have no idea why this driver cut me off. Maybe he was on his way to the hospital to witness the birth of his first child; maybe he was sad about a recent death. Maybe he is someone I wouldn’t like or maybe he is delightful. I will never know. So in my uncertainty, I made something up and called it real.
We do this constantly. It’s how we’re made, so we don’t have to judge ourselves harshly for doing so.
Rather, we begin asking: What are the facts? And then when do I superimpose fiction?
Seeing the world with this level of attentiveness changes the world.
Meditate – Commit to discerning fact from fiction during the day.
Practice – Throughout the day, see if you can see the stories you superimpose on truth.
Advanced Practice – See if you can discern where you leap into inwardly expressed fiction about the nature of your being. How much of what you say about yourself is made up?