What’s your story?

In my previous blog post I posited the idea that every moment in one’s life maybe is as remarkable as the next.  But even if this were the absolute truth, it doesn’t change the fact that most of us simply don’t behave this way.  We are emotional beings and so it’s not surprising that in times of great joy, sadness, anger, excitement (or what emotion we might be feeling in the extreme) those moments are going to make a stronger impression.  The physiological response is immense when we feel emotion very strongly and the fact is, certain things are always going to “stick out” in our memories more than others.

Going beyond the biology, I think that humans have a real attraction to stories.  I wrote a blog post on this importance of stories so I will not repeat myself

From http://fueldabook.com

here, but I think that it is safe to say that we are all rather attached to the story of our own life.   We really want our lives to have a good story.  Some people embellish things to make their own story better.  Some people don’t think much of the story of their life compared to ones they read in books or see in movies.  I guess I might be that type of person.  I often worry about what kind of stories I will tell my son about my life given I was always fascinated by my own father’s stories of how he left India and traveled across much of Europe along his way here.  And of course there is also a bit of an art to telling stories.  There is an art to drawing an audience in and perhaps it always requires a little bit of embellishment as well (A good movie concerning this is Big Fish starring Ewan McGregor. Great movie!).  In Patrick Rothfuss’ book A Wise Man’s Fear (his series, The King Killer Chronicles are really a celebration to stories and storytelling) the main character tells a story of a poor hungry beggar who has no luck finding compassion amongst many of the cultural groups in his world until he finds a group of people that are the main character’s origin who are traveling musicians, performers, and story tellers.  They offer the poor man food and a place to sleep and even invite him to stay and join with them on their travels.  The man finds it hard to accept for he has nothing to give back for their generosity.  They simply reply that he has a story to tell, the story of his own life, and thus a story they have never heard before.  They value stories and thus to them it is more than a fair trade.  So I think we would all do well to remind ourselves that we really all do have at least one story to tell…our own.  And that story is like no one else’s.

I wonder if there is a connection to what we think about the story of our own life and our self-esteem?

Regardless of what we think of our own story, I think that inside we really want our story to be amazing and so we have a tendency to look at something like

A scene from Big Fish (www.boxofficeprophets.com)

the chain of events described in my previous post as amazing, improbable, and perhaps as though we are playing are part in a fate that has been laid out by a supernatural being given how amazing and improbable the events are.  Personally I think that existence as a whole is likely improbable, but here we are anyway.  Love is probably the most intense and wonderful of emotions we experience and so it is no wonder that are desire and attachment to stories involving love are so strong. Whether it is love lost or love found, it doesn’t matter.  This is a story we can all relate to since it is such a strong part of the human experience.  I think that our attraction to the love story is ultimately why arranged marriages and on-line dating are ultimately unsatisfying, because even if those do end up in love, the beginning of the story seems probable, mechanical, and thus uninteresting.

I shall leave you with a wonderful song about stories that lead to love.  I hope you all think about your story today, and I hope you find some good in it.  The best part about our own stories is that we really never know how it’s going to end.  If we knew, that would take all the fun out of it. 🙂

Monster Trucks and Big Guns

There is nothing like the having a child that teaches you more what a woman goes through, and reminds you what you don’t.  I’ve spent most of my adult life becoming aware of the position of privilege I enjoy as a man in a patriarchal society.  The hardships that women face when it comes to unwanted advances, objectification and legislation of their bodies, being judged by appearances over the content of what’s inside, and of course the even harsher realities of domestic abuse and sexual violence.  But having journeyed with my wife through pregnancy, birth, and caring for a baby the world couldn’t seem more upside down.

In my new favorite book series, The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss he describes a culture called the Ademre.  In this culture they are not very sexually conservative.  Sex and love are separate and so sleeping around is no big deal.  As a result of this lifestyle they have not made the connection that a man is associated with making children.  Women think they just sort of “get pregnant”, because there is no monogamy.  As a result they think other cultures who think there is such thing as “fatherhood” are silly.  I know this doesn’t sound very convincing to you, but the book takes place in a non-modern society so you can’t do any DNA tests or anything, and you just have to read it to know that it’s very hard to find a  hole in the reasoning.  The main character of the book who is male cannot either and feels extremely frustrated that he can’t convince the woman that men play a role in making a child.  Both my wife and I feel even uncomfortable reading that section, because men feel so diminished that you actually start to feel bad for men.  That’s some good writing Rothfuss!  And I know that is his intent.  To make you feel uncomfortable. (as an aside, I think finally figured out the hole in how a culture could not develop in such a way, but that’s for another time).  My point in this preamble is that through pregnancy up until now it is pretty clear, how little I have to do with creating life.  One microscopic sperm out of millions, and my part was over.  Life grows in a woman and then after its out she feeds it!  Amazing!

Her body changes.  She feels the motion of the baby inside.  She feels the baby leave her body.  Her hormones are jacked up the whole time and even now.  Her need for attachment through breastfeeding.  There is just a very clear biological change every step of the way, that my body does not go through.  Watching even just how amazing she is right now, and how in control she is in taking care of this child, for something she has never done before is just phenomenal to see.  The hormones get strong sometimes, and she cries sometimes because she feels the slightest failure in breastfeeding, or if she accidentally scratches him or something, but she is amazing.  And then their is the pain in giving birth.  A pain unlike I’ve never seen her go through before.  She tried to be brave and go without the epidural to begin with.  Neither of us are believers that natural childbirth is necessary or anything, but I knew she would want to test the waters.  Had she been able to go into labor naturally and do the things that are supposed to help in dealing with the pain of contractions I believe she could have done it, but regardless women have been doing this for a couple hundred thousand years and here we are today.

She has been the star of the show, and I a supporting actor.  Now before men reading this get up and arms, let me say that, there is no question that this child will do better the more adults it has in his life, and that two people can better care for the child than one.  And an equal partnership will be not only be a great advantage to the child in raising, but give him an excellent example to look up to when he forms his own relationships with others.  Whether they be friendships or romantic relationships, regardless of his sexual orientation.

What inspired me to write this post is, how is it that we live in a patriarchal society?  Why am I am not the one fighting to assert myself as an important gender?  How can any man not come to realize that women are absolutely amazing?  Is it just because of our physical strength?  This seems like a poor answer, but possibly.  One biological aspect that I know men feel in regards to birthing is fear.  Fear that their offspring are not their own and are less likely to care for the offspring as a result.  Is this fear so strong that it has led to the control of women and their bodies just to make sure that we can guarantee that the offspring she has belongs to us?    Given that we evolved in social groups, that had community support to help raise children, even this seems like not a very good answer, but possibly.

But then I wondered if it isn’t all just overcompensation.  The fear that we might not be really that important after all and thus we assert ourselves the most.  We joke all the time when we see a guy drive down the street in his loud and chrome fitted truck with giant wheels …”What’s he compensating for?”  What if it all this is just men trying to make themselves seem more in control than they really are?  More powerful than they really are?

Some questions to think about.  This man has to go feed his child some breast milk his wife made and stored in a bottle while she catches up on some much needed sleep. 🙂