Our stories are all we really know

Joni wrote,

“Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all”

We’d like to believe that our experiences are aligned with the world as it is.

They can’t be. Everything we encounter is filtered through what we know. And what we know comes from the very human cultures we inhabit.

When someone rejects you for a job, they’re not rejecting you. How could they be? They don’t know you. Instead, they’re rejecting their story of you, the best approximation they had combined with the complicated story they (all of us) tell ourselves about our needs, dreams and fears.

We take these stories and we compound them. We sharpen them, rehearse them and turn them into an augmented version of the world as we see it, not the world as it is.

If it’s not working for us, the best thing we can do is begin to do the very hard work of telling a new story, a better story, one that’s more useful.

The clouds are up to us.