Last weekend, Mark and I camped at Hartman Creek State Park with the wonderful people of the Green Apple Folk Music Society. It was 24 hours of trees, music, crickets, connection, quiet, reading, song sharing, bugs, friendship, stars, and happiness. Yet by early afternoon on Saturday, I entered a mild crankiness that quickly fed into a juicy, unpleasant story. The process went something like this: I've read enough for the moment, what now? It's really, really hot. I need something different, but it's too hot for a bike ride. I'll go sit with Mark and friends. Actually, I don't really want to talk with anyone. What I really want is to go home. In fact, I can't wait to get out of this place. It's hot; there's bugs; there's too many people around.
Boom! I went from peaceful and happy, enjoying the moment, to a huge story that was all about me and my unhappiness. Truly, this happened within a 10-minute period. While stewing in my mind, an offer came to go for a swim at a nearby lake. This was a lake about which I'd heard great things from multiple people. And it seemed just what I needed--a get-away from the heat and an opportunity to move my body. Yet I initially resisted. Part of my story was that I wanted to stay unhappy. So I quietly stewed a bit longer. (Luckily, it takes the group a while to mobilize, so I had processing time). I sat in the muck, but then I realized it was muck. I noticed--yay! These are times to celebrate: when I notice the story and take a risk to leave it.
I share this experience as a way to remember it in my bones. To remember all parts (the yucky story, the risk, the return to myself), so I can access them viscerally when I'm in the next story. Because that story will come. In fact, many have come and gone since our camping trip. This is my nature as a human being. But I more fully realize the choices I have when working with my stories. And I'll always remember my refreshing lake swim.