Better Stories

I’m walking on my treadmill with my makeshift desk, typing out the broad-brush concept of my Echoes short story, thinking about the beliefs and possibilities we either cling to or cast aside.

“What weakens certain dreams?” I write. “What broke down the belief ‘I am beautiful’ or ‘I can be a writer’ or ‘I will find my true love’ in this fictional character? What breaks that down in each of us?”

Over the last few days, I’ve found new interest in conversations where co-workers discuss the struggles involved in trying to change their lifestyles or develop better, healthier habits. I’ve noted in myself as much as in others the ease with which we settle on the worst possible outcome in certain situations, seemingly assured by past experience that there’s no point in hoping for something better.

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves really suck.

A muffled voice and motion in my peripheral vision gets my attention, and I pop out an earbud. 

“Daddy,” my wild middle boy asks, “can I go outside and play?”

“Sure, if Mom’s cool with it.”

He darts off, and I notice our 4 year old Dude trailing behind him down the hall. And back again, as his brother heads for the door wearing a sweatshirt hoodie on Okinawa. I call his brother back and tell him to change his shirt into something more appropriate to the humidity and heat. And there goes the Dude, following his brother back down the hall once more like a duckling with its mother.

Who do we follow in life? Who do we look to for inspiration? Whose statements about the world around us hold the most weight in our minds? Whose statements about us do we accept as obviously true?

I have a coworker and friend who is a fitness beast. He does all that CrossFit / TacFit stuff that scares the crap out of me… stuff where you pile a bunch of weights onto some torture device and walk down the street, or you lay out giant tires and pound them with sledgehammers, or you squat untill your legs erupt in fire like volcanoes (and then you squat some more). He and his wife built themselves a gym in the garage, and he posts pictures of their workout efforts fairly often.

He’s also a great photographer with a gift for capturing beautiful moments with his wife and kids. One of his recent pictures came to mind as a perfect example of what I’m writing about here:


There are people in your life that you inspire just by being you.
Photograph and copyright – Bryan Holm. Used with permission.
Who are we looking up to in life? Whose example are we consciously or unconsciously following?

And who might be looking at us, deciding what stories to believe about themselves based on our words and actions? 

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves really suck. 

Write better ones. 

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