Human beings have been telling each other stories since the beginning.
We think in stories. We communicate through stories. It is how we see, how we learn, and how we perceive ourselves in the world.
In other words, the ability to tell a story is what makes us human.
You are the main character of your story, whether you like it or not, and being the main character comes with great responsibility. If we don’t live up to that responsibility, the story loses its meaning, or worse, we end up becoming the villain. We can’t deny the massive weight of being alive and conscious, and if we attempt to, the energy of our existence flips to the negative side of the spectrum. We start to move toward evil, or just become inconsequential.
Carl Jung once said something to the effect of, “We are living a story, and if it’s a story we don’t know, then it might have a bad ending.” What this means to me is that if we don’t recognize the momentum of our lives, the narrative that underlies our actions, and the archetypes that we manifest in the world through our behavior, then we are bound to live out some kind of tragedy because we are not aware enough of ourselves to live up to our own potential.
If we can’t see the story of our own lives, we are likely to play an unsatisfactory role in someone else’s story. I’ve learned that other people are more than happy to give us a bit part in their drama, if we don’t speak up and affirm the value of our own story.
I’m talking about being the hero, man!
We all know what a hero is supposed to be. We all know how the hero is meant to act. Heroes are courageous, inspiring, powerful—using their energy to embody the highest good in every moment. A hero is noble. A hero is dignified. A hero ventures into the underworld, the dark side of their own soul, slaying the dragon of chaos with the sword of truth. The hero is the person who faces the shadow, guided by their own principles and grounded in a love of humanity.
There is nothing abstract about being a hero. I know this because subconsciously we all want to be one, and our conscience tells us exactly when we are not living up to our own heroism.
When I have moments where I fail to act even though I know I should have—standing up for a friend who has been treated unfairly, or being someone who treats others unfairly—I get a bad feeling. I know in that moment I didn’t live up to my potential. I could’ve chosen to be the hero, but I didn’t, out of my own fear or stupidity. While this may not be true for everyone, I’ve found that most of us have an internal mechanism that makes us feel guilty or “in the wrong,” when we don’t choose the higher path.
So, where does this leave us? What does any of this mean, and how do we take action?
Let’s write our own story, and not let anyone else write it for us. The fact that we are alive is so profoundly special in a way that I can’t even begin to describe, but it comes at a cost. We are living a story, and if we don’t put effort into building ourselves up as the hero, listening to our conscience, and taking responsibility for our actions, this story will have a bad ending.
Let’s try a little meditation technique. It’s something I practice all the time, and it really helps me out when I start to feel like I’ve gone down the wrong path.
If I am feeling like I am losing control of my life, like I am slipping into either triviality or wickedness, I close my eyes and envision a seat in the middle of the universe. It is the very center of everything. It is the one place that unifies the entirety of the solar system, gravitating all of the cells and atoms and molecules into a solid structure. It is the most important seat in the world—take that seat. Place yourself in that space, at the heart of being itself, and feel the utter magnitude of your own aliveness.
Take a few breaths, knowing that this space we occupy is of cosmic importance, recognizing the sheer magnitude of our own existence.
I open my eyes, feeling centered and in tune. In meditation practice, this is called taking the one seat. I use it to ground myself, remembering how significant my life really is. Not as an ego. Not in terms of success and material. I am realizing that the brute fact of being conscious, awake, and alive is inherently meaningful. It involves tremendous care, attention, and courage to step up to the plate of this meaningful existence and avoid living a tragedy.
That’s how it feels for me, anyway.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman