The Story

I love the metaphor of playing the hand you’re dealt. It fits well enough and accommodates perfectly the famed unfairness of life we lament so—but which a moment’s reflection reminds us there would be no game without. Unfairness is the infinitesimal hitch in the joinery that breeds reality. It’s the key that unlocks something from nothing.

It really doesn’t matter who wins.

The person we think we are is only the hired help—the ringmaster, not the circus.

Our reality, so we think all reality, is about us—but taking yourself seriously will get you nowhere: you are not the star: love, hope, fear, loneliness, revenge, regret, relief, hatred, despair, and amazing grace are. The playing out of a hand.

Some people say, I never have any luck, as though there were such a thing. They don’t think, I’m playing, which is so lucky it’s miraculous.

Plus, you have to remember the obvious: the best games are the ones with the greatest movement, the greatest surprise, the greatest change. In other words, the best story. Starting with high cards and playing them predictably out isn’t an interesting story. Starting with high cards and blowing them like a hayseed lottery winner, or being outdone by the shrewdness of a weaker player, is. People have to be “storied” to be interesting to other people: they have to have overcome something, found the value or treachery of something, had a narrow escape, a change of heart, defeated their own pride, survived danger, learned something, achieved something, and so forth. You can’t hoard your life, you have to spend it to have stories. And the more miserable the experience, the better the story. No poverty is greater than having no stories.

Everything constantly changes, we all know that, but we’re usually too busy resisting that inevitability to be grateful for it. Spring doesn’t last—neither does youth, the bloom of a flower, a happy time, the innocence of our offspring, a sunset, a thunderstorm, or an adventure. All the things we consider the best in life, not to mention the worst, do not last, and if they do they are subject to death by routine. But none of them would exist if it weren’t so. It’s not just best that way, it’s only possible that way.

Things have to come to be things, but they also have to go.

Beauty, love, happiness don’t just break your heart because they don’t last, they exist because they don’t last. You would have no way to be aware of a flower that always bloomed.

We’ve got a problem with the way we see eternity. The problem is that there is no “we.” Just a collection of “we’s” hired for the day. If we always existed, we wouldn’t exist.

People say, you are the author of your life. But your life is the author of you.

You are your story.

October 20, 2018

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