peace“You won’t believe what happened to me this morning. My life is forever changed. I was eating crackers waiting impatiently for the completion of a download on a 56K modem. I broke a cracker with my thumb for more manageable eating, and the cracker broke into the peace sign. Sure, I know what you’re thinking…so what? I didn’t think much of it either until I broke a second cracker into the exact same configuration. Then I had no doubt. It was a miracle…a sign to pay attention. And now I can find peace in anything!”

We all tell ourselves stories. Things happen, people say things, we have experiences, and we interpret and place meaning and value on all of it. We decide whether it is good or bad, important or meaningless, providence or coincidence. We choose. The trouble is, we are so invested in our interpretations we forget that anyone else having the same experiences might tell an entirely different story. And without being attached to our own version, we might find theirs just as valid. We forget that we too can tell a different story, see things in a completely different way.

Instead, we limit ourselves and others with our stories. We cast ourselves as victims or heroes or villains or victors, and we forget that we are just telling ourselves stories. We identify so deeply with the stories we tell ourselves we tend to believe in them whether they serve us or not. Sure, we all have great stories about how we finally got what we worked so hard for or finally spoke up for ourselves. Those stories feel good. But so often, we write like the soap opera writers, with such drama and tragedy! Or in writing a story of great self-importance, we end up defeated, afraid, and confused when things don’t turn out like we expected. And then we tell another story to explain why. So at times like these, it is best to remember, we are just making things up as we go along!

We interpret the signs, the words, the expressions, the events that happen to us. And those interpretations in turn influence the stories that come later. So it’s important to be aware of the stories we tell and to remember it’s all in our heads, no matter how we choose to see things. And we have so many choices! One person may see the shape of a broken cracker as a sign from God and be so inspired that he starts a program to feed the hungry in his neighborhood. Another person could see that same cracker and think of the irony of such a symbol in a time of war, getting lost in the despair of death and destruction. Still another person might have been so distracted that she didn’t even notice the pattern…but had she been paying attention, what story would she have made up for herself?

My cracker incident got me thinking about what kind of storyteller I am. Do my stories serve me or limit me? What kinds of stories do I want to tell? I clearly have a choice. I can shrink myself and my world with my stories or I can inspire and encourage myself and others. I’ve decided I want to tell beautiful and empowering stories. If I can find peace in a cracker, with mindful storytelling, I can find peace in anything.

Incidently, when I ate my third cracker, it didn’t break into the peace sign. I guess it only had to happen twice for me to write this story.