“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” ~ Joan Didion
A few months back a professor opened a class with a short story by Ernest Hemingway. Very short, in fact:
For sale, baby shoes, never worn.
Some of you may have heard this story before. For me, it was the first time. I let the story sink in as she read it aloud and I felt Wow, that is beautiful and profound and sad and heart wrenching all at the same time… these feelings came up for me in just six words.
Words are pretty powerful. We use language to understand the world around us, to understand ourselves. We use words to make stories to understand the world. These stories help us process the information overload on our brains everyday.
My professor then shared a spin on the story:
For sale, wedding gown, never worn.
And then she asked us to make a list of words that we felt defined us in some way. We were then to share our list with a partner who was assigned the task of creating a six-word story about you.
I can’t remember what was included on that list of words I shared with my partner. I imagine the list included things such as yoga, animals, writing, and romance among other things. It must have also contained some pretty revealing information since the six-word story my partner came up with was: Yoga Instructor Seeks Man on Motorcycle (and hence came my debut article for elephant journal that you can read here).
This six-word story opened up a wealth of possibility for me. For one thing, it made me laugh. It provided some comic relief for where I was in that time of my life. But it most importantly allowed me to understand myself a little bit better by packaging up my situation into a sweet and succinct six-word biography.
But now my story has changed as all stories do. And I could sit on this question for days: What is my six-word story now, today, here, in this moment? There are lots of versions, I am sure. But I’ll just share one:
Girl seeks happiness, finds much more.
I feel the urge to exponentiate from here. But alas, that would defeat the purpose of telling a story in six words.
So now we get to the real purpose of this post: