I was listening to a podcast recently. I’ve been doing that quite a lot lately – consuming not creating. Waiting for the Muse to strike and re-ignite my passion for…something…anything.
It’s unlikely that you will have listened to the podcast, its pretty niche. A vegan, ultra-athlete called Rich Roll interviews other plant based super-humans. I listen, in awe of their energy, their lifestyles and their ability to stick to it. I eat vegetables, I run, I’m part of that tribe – I wish.
Anyway I digress.
His most recent guest was Robin Arzón, an urban athlete who I have since fallen in love with. (It wouldn’t work out between us because if we ever did meet I would probably just giggle, talk shit and faint). During the interview Robin, (I’m already over familiar and blushing), said 5 words that made me stop, sit up and catch my breath. She was recalling a pivotal moment in her life when she was the victim of an armed siege in New York, (these things don’t happen in Bournemouth), age 21 with a gun to her head. WTF! And the words that ran through her skull, the skull with a gun pressed against it, “This is not my story!”
I get goosebumps just writing it down – this is not my story.
Most of us aren’t pressed into situations at gunpoint, that really is the stuff of nightmares, but many of us allow ourselves to drift into lives that are less than we had hoped for. Not necessarily bad lives, or even difficult ones but still less than we had ever anticipated. We aren’t in mortal danger, but there is a part of us slowly fading away and we choose to let it happen. Why? Because it’s easy. I have felt myself being absorbed by middle-age, by the comfort and safety that mediocrity provides. My worries are all first world: disposable income, my kids exam results and did I leave the gas on – this is not my story.
Those five words remind me that I have control, that I can determine which way my story unfolds. I’m grateful that I live in a civilised society, where the choices are mine and my fate is not pre-determined. That is not something to be taken for granted. And yet…
I work in an industry that is on the whole superficial. Glitter and bullshit prevail. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of the purpose in what I do, but it is becoming more rare. When I do it’s because of the people that I am lucky enough to meet and the stories they tell or that we write together. Never because I “fooled them”.
So what is my story and why does it matter? I’m still not sure I know. That my friends is the challenge for those of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to choose. Writing our story and making it matter.