My life doesn’t have a narrative

Narrativity is a word I wasn’t familiar with, or rather I hadn’t heard it used the way I heard it used last week on CBC Radio.
In fact, my spellcheck doesn’t care for the word and wants me to use some other one while providing me with no alternatives.
In essence, narrativity is that our life has a narrative; a story that we live by or that informs us of ourselves. Mary Schechtman, a professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois in Chicago, claims a person must be “in possession of a full and explicit narrative [of his life] to develop fully as a person.”
But as the speaker on CBC Radio said: “Poppycock.”
I can’t give the guest speaker credit or even give his name. I caught the program for a few minutes between stops, and all I know is he is a British philosopher and his gravelly voice made me want to clear my throat almost constantly while I listened.
He said he didn’t understand the notion of “narrativity” and I agreed heartily, using my outside voice.
We were told growing up and in school that only extroverts get the keys to the castle while introverts are lacking the fundamental ingredients to ever come out ahead. But we since have learned there is no universal truth to paint the entire human race with one stroke of the brush.
I say this then to suppose there are many who live their lives shaping the outcomes on any given day by paying heed to the story they want to tell; who can tell their life story in a couple of succinct sentences.
But I am not one of them. My life isn’t that interesting and most of the time, I’m not paying attention. I like to think of each day as a fresh start–the possibilities endless and not limited to the blunders and failings of the previous day.
Spending a lot of time wondering about ourselves to build a narrative seems a bit self-indulgent, and I am willing to bet those who live in poverty and danger and oppression care not for the narrative approach and are focused on survival, of finding food, of hoping their courage and endurance will not be depleted.
There was a philosophy some 30 years ago, if my memory can be trusted (which it often can’t), that one should approach life thinking firstly in terms of “me.” I disagreed then and I disagree now.
John Updike, an American novelist, said, “I have the persistent sensation in my life . . ., that I am just beginning,” and that is how I feel every morning. Not that I leap out of bed filled with vigour and hope, but each day feels brand new and I like that.
I try not to drag along the baggage of passed days although that sometimes happens anyway, despite my efforts.
My life is as if it were a basket with an easy handle, and in the basket I collect the moments that taught me valuable lessons; the moments that paused me in awe, the kindnesses, the laughter, the tears, too, though not so many.
These moments can’t be strung together–a thread running through them as if they were pearls. But the collection of them tells me where I’ve been and hints at where I may be going.
wendistewart@live.ca

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