Episode 027 – What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?
“Everyone has two stories. The one we tell ourselves and those around us, and the one we wish we could tell.” – Chris DiCroce
We’re all storytellers. But are we telling the real story?
The stories we tell create the life we live in. They’re the scripts to our movie and every single day we tell stories that chronicle our triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures, powerful moments, and vulnerable moments; where we’re both hero and villain.
We tell stories about our life, our work, past achievements, and future goals. Stories about our lovers, our family, and our health.
All of these little stories reinforce what we believe about ourselves and influence how those around us see us.
But how much of the story we’re telling about ourselves and to ourselves is true?
How much of it is deeply rooted in fiction and yet, we tell it without even noticing?
In this episode, I explore 4000 years of storytelling to find out.
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Until next time, be nice and do good stuff.
Welcome to Season 3. It’s good to be back. I hope everyone is doing fantastic. We’ve got some great guests lined up for you in the months ahead.
But before I get to any of that, I wanna start with a few nuggets of good news, courtesy of the goodnewsnetwork.com. Why not, right? Who doesn’t love some random good news?
First up, Thanks to biochemist Mari Grandström, we (the world) have a way to turn algae into a replacement for plastic. It’s true.
Grandström discovered that certain components of algae have similarities to petroleum-based chemicals. These similarities allow algae to be substituted using existing techniques in all kinds of products that currently require petroleum-based materials. We’re talking cosmetics, artificial textiles, detergents, packing materials, fertilizer, and even certain food products.
Her organization, Origin by Ocean (ObO) is currently developing a way to scale the process so it can be used globally.
Next we move to the Indian state of Assam on the borders of Tibetan China and Myanmar. Why, you ask? Well, for the first time since 1977 not a single rhino has been poached in any of the four national parks that house the remaining 2,900 single-horned rhino.
Back in 2021, a new chief minister issued a decree that while under his watch, these animals would be protected like never before and he kept his promise. When flooding in the parks drove the rhinos outside park boundaries to higher ground, his special police force stayed in the area 24-7 until the waters receded and the animals could return to the protected area.
Local fishermen and farmers have been given cell phones to report poachers and these tactics have allowed the rhino to recover from the brink of extinction. The poachers are now being poached. Kudos to you, sir.
And last but not least, 2023 bids adieu to the year of the Tiger and ushers in the year of the rabbit. But… not just any rabbit, the water rabbit.
Normally, the year of the rabbit is associated with wood except when it includes the number 3 when it becomes the water rabbit. What rabbits? Who knew…
Famous water rabbits include Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Angelina Jolie, and David Beckham. When you look at the horoscopes for the water rabbit year, nothing is congruent. There is no overlap, they all say different things.
It’s a great year to have a baby. It’s a terrible year to have a baby. It’s a great year to start a business and yes, it’s the worst possible year to start a business. You can expect incredible challenges ahead or you can experience incredible rewards.
Why are we even discussing this? [paper crumple] good luck rabbits.
Season 3. Here we are and 2023 is a couple of months old; how ya doing? Did you make resolutions? Are they still in play?
I hope all is well.
At the end of Season 2, you might remember a lot of talk about magic and antenna and receiving stuff from the universe. That stemmed from Rick Rubin’s fantastic book, The Creative Act: I also mentioned Bono’s book, Surrender. Shortly after the season ended, I devoured both.
I needed a creative booster shot and both of these books delivered.
I mentioned it before, the break we take between seasons is not a break at all. We may not be publishing every week but I use the time to flush out new storylines, research, and book guests. I try to get as far ahead of the production schedule as I can.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the show. What does it look like going forward? How do we grow?
What stories do I want to tell?
Well, it’s storytime.
So…there’s this guy, a king. Part god. Part mortal. His name is Gilgamesh and he’s not a nice guy. He rules over his kingdom as a tyrant, taking women as he pleases and living in a perpetual state of war.
Then, there’s this other guy, called Enkidu. He is Gilgamesh’s equal but they are not pals. Enkidu is sent to kill him. Instead, after a heated confrontation, the men become best friends and set off to follow Gilgamesh’s campaign of various conquests, the biggest being immortality.
There’s a Goddess who sends the Bull From Heaven to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances…blowing off a Godess is never cool. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull of Heaven – you mess with the bull, you get the horns. and in return, Enkidu get the horns. He’s sentenced to death.
When Enkidu is killed, Gilgamesh realizes the importance and frailty of life. He discovers that immortality can come only through the people he rules. He abandons his hollow pursuits, transforms himself and returns to his throne a hero.
Have you heard this story before? If you haven’t, I’m sure you recognize the theme. Bad guy turns turns good. Could be Lord of The Rings or some other mythical drama from one of Hollywood’s biggest names. But… it’s not.
It’s a story from 4000 years ago. The Epic of Gilgamesh is widely considered the first recorded piece of literature and best guess has it written sometime between 2000 and 1500 bce.
Why are we talking about this? Well, because today’s episode is about the power of story. And I’m not just talking about the stories as they pertain to historical context. I’m talking about all of our individual stories as they relate to what’s come before and what is yet to come.
As you know, if you listened to the trailer of this show, I’m obsessed with stories and I’m fascinated that a story told nearly 4000 years ago can be adapted with little effort to fit modern times.
In fact, Gilgamesh has been adapted and interpreted in modern literature dozens of times and is credited as being the prototype for Hercules and as the influence for Homer’s epics.
In 1947, Herman Kassack used the Epic of Gilgamesh as a metaphor for post-war Germany in his novel, City by the River.
And In 2016, The New York Times Editorial Contest Winner, Annie Cohen took the prize with her editorial, The Resurrection of Gilgamesh, in which she said, “The problem is that fame, however short-lived, is in the grasp of every young human who has access to the Internet. Everybody must have his or her name known, everybody must know who is doing what, to feed our Gilgamesh Complex.”
I got off on a bit of a tangent there. My point was not to put forth a thesis on the Epic of Gilgamesh. I simply wanted to point out the fact that no matter how far back in the human experiment you travel, even to the very first piece of literature ever discovered, you’ll find a theme that is relevant and powerful today.
I’m curious why each generation sees a need to reinterpret stories of the past. With the same themes. Love, war, internal conflict, redemption, and yes, immortality.
Think about all of the stories ever told. The amount of knowledge and information. that’s been compiled – interpretations, calculations, and misalignments.
Everything any of us ever needs to know about ourselves and our world has, it seems, been written and rewritten. Da Vinci, Darwin, Einstein… The debates are as vast as the universe and yet, we are still discovering the undiscovered and telling the story in a new way.
The Old Testament, Adam and Eve. The kids eat the forbidden fruit, the apple. They’re expelled from the Garden of Eden. We’ve been paying for it ever since.
Is it ironic that I’m typing this episode on a computer made by one of the biggest corporations in the world that has, as its logo, an apple with a conspicuous bite?
Homer, Shakespeare,Twain… Jane Austen, Ayn Rand and on and on. These are the stories of our history. Humanity’s encyclopedia.
Where am I going with this?
Well, every time I put together one of these solo episodes, I get ensnared in the message. I transition from writer to listener. I start asking questions and then wonder what it is that I just revealed about myself. I have to constantly extract myself, rescue myself from my own content. If I didn’t have to perform so many rescue missions, these would be much easier.
Listening to past episodes – I’m the traveler in Rediscovering Discovery, searching for ways to see things with new eyes. In The Best Advice episode, I’m the person who feels the need to help when someone simply wants to talk and in Rise and Shine, I’m telling myself that everything will be okay.
And here, I’m wondering if I’m ready to go deep enough to see the truth about the story I’ve been telling.
I constantly talk about this thing called, The Process. The Process is a series of actions and after a considerable number of years, the trail that you’ve left behind, is The Story.
At the beginning of any process, before you’ve begun anything, you operate with a certain naivete. Vision clouded by enthusiasm.
You don’t know what you don’t know. You tell yourself a future story about how you’re going to discover it, as Rumi wrote: Walk and the way will appear.
But as Malcolm Gladwell puts it, “The key to innovation is delusion.”
Once the delusion wears away and you understand what you’ve gotten yourself into, you begin to understand the process and, at the same time, exactly what you didn’t know about what you didn’t know.
The story changes. And that brings us back to the one constant. Story. It’s always and has always been about the story.
The stories we tell create the life we live in. They’re the scripts to our movie and every single day we tell stories that chronicle our triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures, powerful moments, vulnerable moments; Where we’re both hero and villain.
Every day, we tell stories about our life, our work, past achievements and future goals. Our lovers, our family, our health and… all of these little stories reinforce what we believe about ourselves. They influence how those around us see us.
As the storytellers who came before us did, we tell stories to help us better understand the world around us. And we tell stories so that we may be better understood.
And that story can live for an hour, a day, a year or a lifetime. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re telling a story nor do we recognize that story’s immediate effect.
And now that we’re deep into this, how much of the story you’re telling about yourself is true? How much of it is deeply rooted fiction that you’re telling without even noticing?
I’ll go first. But, before I do that, let’s circle back a bit for the sake of context.
In addition to Rick Rubin and Bono’s books, I read Nick Cave’s new book, Faith, Hope, and Carnage. Nick’s an Australian singer, songwriter, and poet. The first page of the book inspired this entire episode.
It’s an interview style memoir and the first question to Nick is about his story. The interviewer says, “I’m surprised you agreed to do this given you haven’t done interviews for a very long time.”
Cave responds, “Who wants to do interviews. They suck. After a while, you just get worn away by your own story. It only ever took something away. I always had to recover a bit afterwards. It was like I had to go looking for myself again.”
Okay… so my antenna picked up on that. Telling my story only ever took something away. Hm… like I had to go looking for myself again. Interesting.
I spent some time with that statement. Then, I Googled myself. I wanted the public picture of me. Most of it was the story I created and then there were stories that others told.
A Then I went to my website and clicked around and I tried my best to see it with new eyes and a different perspective. That’s hardly possible but I tried.
My intention has always been that my website would be the place where people could find my music, my books, and be a point of contact.
What I saw was absolutely not that. The story on my website had nothing to do with the current me. It was like a memorial to a guy who died a while ago.
The more time I spent clicking around, the more I felt myself transporting backward in time. You know… it was like the parachute on one of those top-fuel dragsters. It’s jetting down the drag strip at 200 miles an hour and bang… the chute opens and it immediately slows, the ass end starts to swerve. Fun’s over.
Well, for me, as I move forward through life, changing, hopefully growing and adapting, this digital parachute jerks me backwards into a story that really has nothing to do with who I am at this moment.
I haven’t released a new book in two years. Recorded music in over a decade? Why are these things still even there? What’s the story?
That’s a rhetorical question: Logically, I know the answer. I’m proud of the work. I always felt like they were credibility markers. Look what I’ve done. Here’s what I’m capable of. Hire me. Let’s work together.
But as I see it now, none of it has anything to do with who I am today or where I want to go tomorrow.
It’s an old story that doesn’t have any connection to my current life. It’s a false narrative. As Nick Cave says, it wears me away a little. That parachute that immediately slows my forward motion. If I spend too much time there, I’d definitely feel the need to go looking.
I used to view this journey as one long story with many different chapters. But, maybe life isn’t a bunch of chapters in the same book. Maybe it’s a collection of entirely different books.
Jim Loehr author of the New York Times bestseller, The Power of Story: Change Your Story, Change Your Destiny in Business and in Life writes:
“Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Loehr, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing.”
And now that we’re deep into this, it’s your turn. How much of the story you’re telling about yourself is true?
How much of it is deeply rooted fiction that you’re telling without even noticing?
Though I’ve not always been successful at doing it, I’ve always believed we can overwrite the story of us if it no longer fits the narrative… ours or other people’s.
But If we continue to tell the same story, the same story will be told.
I believe that everyone has two stories. The one we tell ourselves and those around us and the one we wish we could tell.
Which one are you gonna tell?
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