Stories come, at least for me, from somewhere deep inside with only limited influence by the more rational part of my mind (I did a whole post on it here). However, there’s more to the inner self, or right brain, or subconscious, or whatever term you prefer, than telling stories. Among other things, it observes, and catches things we don’t consciously notice, and it puts pieces together in ways that the ego, or left brain, or conscious mind, just isn’t capable of doing. The trick for the inner self is to get what it observes across to the conscious self, which always seems to be certain that it knows everything. Often, those observations sneak through as hunches or intuition or a gut feeling about something. Some people are better at tuning in than others, and may be called intuitive or psychic or spiritual. Can writing, the process of opening yourself up to a flow of ideas from your inner self, provide not only stories to write, but also a bridge for your inner self to communicate with your conscious mind? And what about the conscious mind, which I’m now going to refer to as the ego because it’s short and easy to type, hearing and acknowledging that communication?
I’ve been feeling rather gloomy for the past couple of weeks, ever since realizing that I needed to slow to a walk before slamming headlong into a wall, with the extra gravy of a variety of other stresses I can’t do anything about and decisions to deal with. I’ve been contemplating decision points in my life – if I’d made different choices, where would I be now, and how many of those stresses and decisions would be absent? The rational part of my mind is pointing out, of course, that everyone has stresses and decisions and that while I might not have the current set, I’d simply have other ones. That really isn’t stopping the morose reflections, however.
When I go for walks, I have music on and I let my mind wander wherever it likes. Sometimes it plays with a scene or story I’m working on; more often, it toys with alternatives. For the past few days, I’ve been unable to shake what seems like a rather morbid trend. Specifically, a set of alternatives regarding a character I’m very fond of and write a lot about, in my Gaia playground universe. The details don’t matter; what’s relevant is that this character makes some tough decisions, and the consequences have at times been difficult, but he helps a variety of other people in the process and gets to a point where he can make a difference in the world (both of them, actually). I’m finding myself seeing what this character would have been like if he’d chosen the obvious and easier path. Quite frankly, I don’t like him. He’s self-righteous and, if introduced to his “real” self, clearly considers himself superior. Despite that, I’m certain that underneath, he knows that something important is missing. He’s still devoting his life to helping people, but he has a more limited definition of who deserves to be helped and how, unlike his “real” self who will do his best without judgement for pretty much anyone or anything in need. The consequences spread outwards in ripples: characters who in that other universe were never offered a hand could be anywhere and in some cases would almost certainly be in bad situations; characters still around are different and, for the most part, not in positive ways.
That this is what has been persistently turning up in my head has been rather disturbing. It has no purpose as far as writing, and it isn’t even particularly fun, so where is it coming from? It took me a while to clue in, because it’s been a while since the last time this happened.
My deeper self is trying to thump something into my head, and I haven’t been listening the right way.
My life is a story about choices and consequences. So is yours. My cats each have a story (and if you think cats don’t make choices, you don’t know cats very well). The pine tree in front of my apartment building has a story, which probably involves squirrels a lot, although I’m unsure how pine trees might make choices. Writing is the process of creating people and seeing what their story would have been if they existed and were in the situation we set up for them. The changes I can see in a character at the end of a story (to what extent stories ever end, to me) are the cumulative result of the choices they’ve made and how they’ve dealt with the consequences.
It’s harder to see in real life, especially our own lives because we’re so enmeshed in it, but we’re the cumulative result of our own stories, too.
My own story, of course, has touched others, in some of which I’ve been only a very minor character and in some a major one. (Yours and mine are touching right now, in fact.) Obviously that contact isn’t always going to be pleasant and isn’t always going to have ultimately positive results (although maybe I’ve been a learning experience for some). I do know, however, that at other times, I’ve had a hand in changing the stories of other people (and cats) for the better; similar changes might have occured without me, but sometimes, they might not have occured at all.
If, like the character I mentioned, I ever came face to face with a version of me who had made different choices at major turning points in life, or even at a single early one since the others from then on would be new ones… would who I am now like the person I would have been, and vice versa? I doubt it. Since one of the very earliest of those was about the importance of writing, would I be living with an awareness of something missing? Probably. Would life be “better”? For some given values of “better,” probably, but overall? You know, I honestly don’t think it would.
Which, I believe, is what my own inner self has been trying to get across to me, proving once again that while the ego may know a lot, the inner self has its own wisdom.
Sometimes it just seems to have something to say. Several blog posts have appeared that I had no intention of writing, but they took shape while I thought I was writing about something else; the directions it goes in aren’t always comfortable, but it does have some insights that my ego doesn’t expect, and a drive towards disclosure that makes my ego cringe.
I’m sure other forms of creativity can be effective channels for that wisdom, but it seems to me, admittedly biased, that writing is singularly well suited to serving as a conduit for what the inner self might have to say. People who devote themselves to other media might have a different viewpoint on that, though.
So, does your inner self make use of your chosen medium for creativity this way?