I believe that our lives are the sum total of the stories we tell about them.
Not everyone agrees. In fact, saying this out loud at a cocktail party can be a real conversation-starter. But think about it: once a moment or an experience is behind you, all that’s left is the memory of it. As you tell people about it—or tell yourself about it—whatever version of that memory you tell becomes the story of that experience. Over time, that story becomes the experience.
String them all together—and that’s your life.
Yesterday was a perfect illustration of this theory. I spent the day with one of my oldest, dearest friends. She lives in Peekskill and we both have crazy-busy lives, so time alone together is a rare gift. We passed the hours in typical fashion, beginning with a lose set of plans (a skincare treatment and yummy lunch) and making the rest of it up as we went along.
We ended the day in a local mall, despite the fact that we’d finished all of our holiday shopping. But it allowed us to get out of the rain and continue to walk and chat. Along the way she picked up a pair of stockings for an upcoming wedding and I took advantage of a 40%-off sale on my favorite bras.
As we headed for the exit, we had to pass through the Lord & Taylor shoe department. Because everything was deeply discounted; and because she had a coupon for an additional 20% off; and because you saved another 10% for using your L&T credit card; and because she got an additional 15% off because she had to re-open her credit card account—I bought a long-coveted pair of La Canadienne boots.
We laughed about this coup the whole way to the car, and as we stashed our bags and fastened our seat belts. Then Maryanne said, “Well, this day has been another story to add to our collection of Donna-and-Maryanne stories.”
The part of the story we’ll both remember is that I saved $135 on a fabulous pair of boots. Chances are that, as we tell this story over time, we’ll disagree about some of the details. Maybe she’ll say we bought the boots at Nordstrom. Maybe I’ll forget the name of the restaurant where we had lunch.
But the bottom line is that this story will be memorable because it’s about so much more than the bargain. For me, it’s a tiny chapter in the book about my friendship with her. About what she means to me. About what relationships mean to me. And, ultimately, about how I live my life.