I have a confession to make. Yesterday I kind of told a lie on Facebook and it was fun. Okay, so maybe I didn’t lie. Maybe I just altered the details slightly in order to tell a different story… ? 😉
Let me back up.
Yesterday morning, I was less than three miles into a ten-mile run and had already caught a glimpse of seven deer. As I ran along I created a Facebook status, one that I wanted to share after I was done.
Math word problem: If you run 10 miles and pass 7 deer who are also out on their morning run then how many deer stayed home in their jammies drinking coffee?
Turns out, when my run was all said in done, I had passed a total of 12 deer. But that’s not the story I wanted to tell. I had my heart set on sharing a different story. So, I “lied” to all my Facebook friends, not to mention adding a few details like coffee drinking deer who like wearing pajamas.
As I ran along yesterday, I thought more about this ability storytellers have to change things up. I love the fact that if our purpose is to exclusively entertain then 100% truth isn’t necessary, a shade of truth is sufficient. Ideas will often spring from reality but then veer off into fiction. Other than silly Facebook statuses, I’ve only written a handful of fiction pieces in my life. My math word problem reminded of how much fun it is to tell whatever story you want to tell. It’s very freeing.
Sometimes, I wish real life could be more like that, don’t you? If we had a horrible, no good terrible day we could just go back and edit that part out. We could rewrite those parts to only include sunshine, flowers, giant pools of coffee, and waterfalls made out of chocolate.
Yet even though we can’t undo how our lives have played out, we do still have complete freedom as to how we choose to present those stories to other people. Words have the power to build up, encourage and inspire, or words have the power to tear down, discourage and deflate. They are given this power all by how we choose to use and organize them. One of my favorite parts about storytelling is that even the saddest stories can be retold in such a way that they contribute something beautiful back to the world.
I believe each of us can strive to be good storytellers even if we don’t happen to be writers. As storytellers, we can take the hard and extract the hope. Bad stories, stories we would prefer not to tell can be redeemed simply by the way we decide to share them. I love that.
I also love the reminder yesterday that, every step of the way, before the words are written down, we have a say in how each chapter will unfold. We have a say by the choices we make or the reactions we have. All of those details are up to us.
What kind of stories are we going to tell today, this week, this month or this year? I know that in reality the true story I tell today (most likely) won’t include deer drinking coffee and wearing jammies but it can still be pretty awesome!