I’ve been following Donald Miller on twitter lately, which reminds me often about stories. If you don’t know of Donald Miller, he is the author of Blue Like Jazz which has also been made into a movie that will be coming out in a few weeks. He also has this whole view on life, like it’s a good book or movie. He does a conference called StoryLine, which I would love to do some day, but honestly, would never have the chance to go. But he talks a lot about looking at the story of your life. If your life was a movie, what would it be about? Would you even want to watch it? I personally find my life very entertaining, but it is something to think about. What are your dreams and goals. If your goal is to buy a new gadget or get a certain type of car or house. How boring would that story be as a movie. A good movie has real challenges. All that to say, check out Donald Miller and the new movie coming out. But what I want to talk about in this post is how we put a story to everything we hear and see.
A few weeks ago, in Florida, a boy was shot by a man who claimed it was for self defense. The press heard this story and ran with it. The way it was reported the man who did the shooting was a villain. A racist, trigger happy, militant neighborhood watch freak. The media didn’t say this, but they drew a picture and let people fill in the gaps. Just the right adjectives and well placed emphasis will go a long way to spin a story. They also chose to only show a 14 year old boy in any of the photos, although the boy who was shot was now much older and much larger then the photo. There was public outcry as to why this man wasn’t charged and arrested for a crime.
Just recently it was leaked out that the “facts” of the earlier reporting were a little misguided. The new leaked information tells a completely different story. A story of a troubled teen and a concerned neighbor who did wait until the very last moment in a physical altercation where he was in fear for his life having his head beaten into the pavement, defended himself with his gun. Suddenly, my heart which held him in contempt was flopped to now pity him for being caught up in that situation. It now seems as though he is not the villain he was painted to be. He, I’m sure, is broken over this situation.
I just think it is interesting how we have this need to story line every situation so that we can better understand it. When we are given a few facts, we fill the gaps with reason and character that we sometimes completely make up in order to find a story to fit the facts. Much like those visual tricks and puzzles work, where the eye is given just the right amount of information and it assumes the details to match it’s perception of what your brain thinks it is seeing. We do that for stories as well, and sometimes it’s wrong. But we do it all the same. Everyone does. Your family tells a story about you. Your employer tells a story about you. Maybe you are someone’s nemesis? What are you doing to actively effect the stories being told about you? Don’t just sit back and let people assume who you are. Make your character known by your actions. Also, don’t be a bit part in the story. Make an impact in the lives of people you interact with. Draw people into your story and make it a good story, a worthwhile story. There are some stories that change our lives. Maybe your story will be that to someone else.