We each have a story, or a storyline we may strongly identify with, depending upon our OS, so to speak, inherited or acquired through the force of conditioning, habit, upbringing, environment, experiences, etc; the conditions that most closely relate to our particular expression of aliveness, many of which we are not conscious of.

That storyline tends to reinforce our identities. If we identify strongly as this or that (insert labels here), our story will relate to this or that. Being strongly identified with a thing, even a very good thing, means at some level rejecting, even if subtly, all things that are not it, unless the thing we identify with is or stands for no-fixed-identity. In other words, strong identification can be a limiting habit.

Often, our story is not the story of the moments of clarity and insight we may have, since such moments require or demand no qualification. Such moments belong to something irreducible and ineffable and indefinable.

If we are in the habit of identifying with our story, or narrative of who we think we are, we will likely privilege that story, that is, insist on our rightness in how we’ve interpreted events/experiences, people; possibly sacrificing the potential for breakthrough to a deeper level of awareness.

What happens when we strongly (and habitually) favor our own story, the way we tend to do things, and disregard, dismiss, destroy, or denigrate that of others? Well, look around. Because there’s a lot of that happening.

I can think of more extreme examples, but for now, let’s say I strongly identify as vegan (versus simply maintaining a vegan diet and not identifying as vegan) and I encounter a vegan-hating omni- or carnivore whose “science” contradicts the “science” I can come back with?

In that moment of collision between two seemingly irreconcilable stories what can I do? What are my options? How can wisdom and compassion show up for that encounter?

Do I continue to hold doggedly to my narrative, react, or push back in my demands that the other person/s understand and eventually agree with or adopt my story?

Can I watch my freedom, kindness, and ease vaporize as the sullen contraction and bitter resistance grips me through this kind of exclusivity?

Can I observe the precise bodily and mental sensations yielded by grasping more tightly to my position?

Can I see that cleaving to my position, however noble or not, is damaging, not nurturing, my connection to the fragile human being/s before me?

What does an awakening approach look like in this scenario?

We have to get quiet enough to see what we’re doing.

We’ve bought into the messages served up by raging, clanging, noise, breakneck speed, and commotion as the only routes to change.

But as Eckhart Tolle says, Stillness Speaks. And its message heals.

When our inner jungle gyms collide with those of others, our dearly cherished stories need to be understood as not only collapsible, but even fictional, if provisionally functional and/or oh so sophisticated.

Gasp! No! I stand for what’s right! This is Who I Am! Not to stand up for What I Believe is unacceptable!

Okay, but who could we all be without our story? Could we create unity in our mere shared aliveness deeply sensed in stillness?

Breathe.