What stories do we tell about the world, our loved ones and “adversaries” when we are left to ourselves, during times of fear?
A few weeks ago, I was with a cousin of mine who lives on the Lebanon-Syria border who had been captured or kidnapped and put in a wooden box — a casket, really, for eight days, without any contact with his family or friends, just a little water, bread, and use of a bathroom while his fate was being determined by strangers.
When I asked him how he survived that ordeal, he said “stories”. He told himself stories of all he loved and cherished in the world, stories he had been told as a child, stories from his family and his lover, stories that would make him laugh or weep, for they were the ones which could keep him alive. They were his antibodies which helped him repel, resist & survive the terror of that moment, stories which kept him sane and thankful & healthy despite all odds.
What stories would you tell yourself under such circumstances? What stories are you telling yourself during these dark times? Stories of submission? Defiance? Peace-making? Resilience? Contempt? Or grace? Which do you really need? Which do you need to pass on to others now under stress? Which stories can lead us out of darkness into light?
–Gary Paul Nabhan