January 7

All sorrows can be borne
if you put them into a story
or tell a story about them.

Isak Dineson


Today's Meditation:

Sorrow hurts.  Sorrow that isn't shared hurts much more than sorrow that is shared with someone else, for what we keep inside tends to eat away at us, to grow great and fearsome in our minds, and we give it much more power than it really has if we deal with it only in the depths of our thoughts and ideas and ponderings.  I know that when I've been alone with sorrow, I've allowed it to drag me down to place I simply did not want to visit; when I've been able to share my sorrows, the simple sharing allowed me to deal with the sorrow much more positively, and I haven't allowed it to drag me anywhere.

I firmly believe that much of the distress in the world today results from our loss of communication with others, from our loss of contact with each other.  While people used to gather together and share their stories with each other, we now pull ourselves apart from each other and try to get what we need from television, movies, songs, video games, or the Internet.  Stories used to be what helped us to learn how to avoid mistakes, how to deal with other people, how to work our ways through things like sorrow with our eyes on the light that shone before us; now, I see very few people actively and regularly sharing their stories with others.  And I see many frustrated people who want to do so.

Our world is full of substitutes for the stories that we used to tell, the unhurried time that we used to spend together.  Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, MySpace--look closely at what you see there and recognize the stories that people are trying to share, sometimes desperately.

Stories must be told.  They reflect the essence of who we are.  Sorrows hurt, but sorrows shared heal more quickly and more fully.  Find someone to whom you can tell your stories, and be there for others who wish to tell theirs.  Life is a rich, full experience, and much of that richness can be found in the stories that we share with each other--when and if we get back to doing so.

Questions to consider:

When was the last time you had a chance to share a story about your joys and sorrows?  How did you feel when you were able to do so?

Why are we unable to share our stories with each other these days?  What has changed in our lives that prevents this?

Why do we find it so difficult to listen to the stories of others?  Time?  Boredom?  A desire to share our own stories?  A need to get back to work?

For further thought:

When we haven't the time to listen to each other's
stories we seek out experts to tell us how to live.
The less time we spend together at the kitchen table,
the more how-to books appear in the stores and on
our bookshelves.  But reading such books is a very
different thing than listening to someone' s lived
experience.  Because we have stopped listening
to each other we may even have forgotten how to
listen, stopped learning how to recognize meaning
and fill ourselves from the ordinary events of our lives.
We have become solitary; readers and watchers
rather than sharers and participants.

Rachel Naomi Remen


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