Telling Stories

I had revelation about the tradition of story telling this week; one worth writing a few words about. A few weeks ago, I attended a Truth & Reconciliation seminar. Something that struck me about this session, and others I’ve attended in the past, is that Indigenous people will tell stories about their challenges. I’ve often wondered why there weren’t words of action and direction about what we can all do to make reconciliation work. (Don’t get me wrong, these stories are really important and it is important, as a settler, to listen.)  Recently, and as a result of attending this session, I’ve been working on U of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada course and, this week, did the section on Indigenous Law. This is where the light went on; apparently there is no written law and much of the legal framework of how Indigenous communities work is to communicate their “legal” system through stories about the land, creatures, creation, and community. As with any good parable, these stories have a great deal to tell us about how to interact with each other and the world. It is an important part of the story telling that individuals, rather than being told what to do, be free to derive the important meanings from the stories and interpret them on a situational basis. And now I’ve learned how to be a better listener because these aren’t just people telling stories, they are mentors and guides.

My Fault…

I have been a bit of a depressed mess recently and I see the smallest problem as being all my fault. As a programmer, I’ve really worked hard to not be a “finger-pointer”. When there is a computer problem, it is usually not safe to assume that it is the user, 3rd party software, the hardware, or the operating system. It is important to keep in mind that, as the developer of a major piece of software, the problem may well be in my code and I should work hard to eliminate that possibility before moving on to other sources. Unfortunately, I’ve integrated the “it is my fault” idea into my identity; so much so that my To-Do list has started looking to me like a list of faults that I need to fix and faults that I’m about to create. Worse, this belief has bled into the rest of my life so that I immediately assume any stressor is my fault and I assume responsibility for fixing it. Because life isn’t a program, the fixes become messily codependent boundary violations and result in self-loathing and a desperate attempt to make myself as small as possible (so as not to introduce new bugs). Ironic, isn’t it, that what has been a positive trait in my career has grown destructive in the rest of my life? Now to go debug it…

That Explains a Few Things

Today’s Headspace meditation said that when our mind wanders during meditation it often goes off into pleasant thoughts. Well, that’s news to me. When I mentally wander I go to what’s on my mountainous to do list at work or what’s worrying me about relationships. It can actually make me a bit antsy about sitting doing the meditation because there is so much to do. It occurred to me, at first, that there’s a warning sign there and maybe I need to find those happy thoughts again. It further occurred to me, as I was writing this, in fact, that this is the whole point of meditation; to clear the mind of all that baggage, be in the moment, and, as a result, find the pleasant things more often during the day.