We are a collection of our pasts and the truths we’ve cultivated about ourselves -- who we are, what we value, how we’re supposed to perform -- in order to make sense of things in this world. But they’re just stories, aren’t they? Programmed into us at an early age, so that we have some semblance of identity and purpose.
Because there’s safety in meaning, right? Things are more comfortable if we can explain why. And how convenient to have that collection of value systems and past stories to pull from! Quite literally, a reference library to help our brains make sense of things. To make meaning.
An acting teacher of mine often talks about our “Meaning Makers” getting in the way while we craft our solo performances. Meaning Maker: that human urge to ascribe reason to creative choices, so that they can be explained and understood -- often before they’re fully formed!
Overused, and our Meaning Makers can be a type of cognitive shut-down to our creativity. Not to mention our curiosity, sense of adventure and spontaneity.
This is an age-old story we tell ourselves in order to be loved and stay safe: if I can rationalize this, it has value. If this unformed thought -- borne from our intuitive, preverbal center -- goes through our reasoning machine, all will be well.
I say ‘enough!’ to living from the neck up. What about the heart? Isn’t the heart part of our set of self-stories? Is it not on every shelf of that reference library? Isn’t it there in all the purpose and programming we claim make us who we are?
Maybe we change things up. Maybe we frame our Meaning Makers as a function of coherence between the head and the heart, instead of just the thinking mind. Maybe we exercise trust in just knowing, even when we can’t reason why. Maybe we’d live bigger and brighter, more well and whole and authentic and alive; making amazing things...just for the sake of making them.
Hmmm...now that’s a story I’d like in my collection.