Have not been writing for this blog much lately- but here is my weekly column just in case you have missed me…………
I have found the answer. My journey is complete. My soul is restored. No more spiritual cravings. Over the years I have made some of these declarations before, but this time it is “the real thing” and I am not referring to my favourite soft drink. Or soda. Or pop. Or however you may refer to your favourite carbonated beverage.
Do I have your curiosity piqued? Probably not, but I shall endeavour to bring you the answer I have sought for so long and finally found, despite your doubts. I know the meaning of life and it is all thanks to one of my favourite but quirky, or quirky but favourite columnists and CBC radio host, Jonathan Goldstein. In his Saturday column this week in the National Post, called “A few Tips on How to Exist” he asked God why he was bound for a life he did not ask for. He did not want to be born. He said that his argument, which consisted of making the following plea: “Don’t make me be. To the universe I will always be the clumsy boy on his first day of school, never fitting in, smelling so funny. Even to myself…” must not have been compelling enough.
And God’s response? He is purported to have told Jonathan that the smell attached to him is as “old as time” and he needed “a person to go along with it.” God then told Jon “to go out there and start existing.” But that is not the end of the story. God had a plan for him that he seemingly has for everyone. According to Jonathan, in answer to his question, “What is the use….I’ll only end up right back here….why bother?” God said this: “So that you can come back and tell me good stories.” Apparently God loves a good story. He told Jonathan (in Jonathan’s hypothetical conversation) that coming back with a good story “is the best and perhaps only gift you can give me.”
I understand. If we do not go out into the world to gather stories, then what really is the point? Stories chronicle our journey; they make following a path worthwhile because at the end of the path is our story. Just this morning I told my husband that the only reason I let him out into the world without me is to bring back stories. I told him if he did not bring stories from his adventures then he would not be allowed out anymore (you do know this is tongue-in-cheek don’t you?). He likes to dive; I cannot swim. He likes the blues; I don’t particularly care for that type of music. But I still expect him to come back with stories—what did you see; what did you do; who did you talk to; what did you eat—you know the drill.
Stories help us live several lives. First the lives that we lead and the stories we can tell; and then, the lives other live that we can occupy, if only in our imagination. I love to live vicariously. It expands my horizons, if not experientially—at least second-hand. Recycled events open us to things we cannot, or are not willing to experience ourselves, but that we can still benefit from. Jonathan says it somewhat more lyrically in these words: “Stories create memories and maybe the memories we make are the novels God reads.”
Jonathan also finds that many of his stories are “accidents turned into anecdotes”. The key element in his stories is humour and embracing his embarrassments, which include spilling relish on himself on a regular basis. I too suffer from regularly spilling food on myself, and find wearing white pants an adventure. From coffee to mustard, chili to French onion soup, the story of my life can be told by the stains on my clothes. I also suffer from TMJ, which means I cannot open my mouth very wide, making me somewhat of a spectacle on the lunch circuit. I really must remember to take smaller bites—oh, the stories I could tell!
I am being a bit facetious here (if you have to tell people you are being facetious you have failed at some level in your storytelling—something like if you have to ask the price…..) but I think you are getting the gist.
We were not put on this earth to do anything other than to find our story. And our story is derived from all those things that have happened to us—from the day we were slapped on the butt to the day our soul survives us, we are our story.
Note: Jonathan refers to God as he; I do not necessarily think God is a he. Do You?