The Journal #24: Stories

This was written while sipping a double-shot Americano made from a new espresso machine, since the one I had earlier melted its own self from within.


I’ve always been obsessed with stories. I believe everyone runs on them. Stories they tell themselves, stories they tell others and stories that are actually true. Everyone is a protagonist in their head, whether they explicitly believe it or not. It takes great courage to see that it’s not all about you in most things. Yet, the stories we tell ourselves are important.

There is a story behind why you tie your tie in a certain way. There’s one behind why grey is your favourite colour or why you adore and hate Octobers. There is a long one behind why you go out of your way to help others. There’s a story behind that chuckle and smile you give when someone asks you if you’ve ever been in love. There’s one behind why you often stare at an empty table you dare not take in your hometown cafe.

There’s a story for how you constantly, almost compulsively try to keep improving yourself, of how anxious you get when you can’t fix something‚ÄĒanything.

Yet, stories end. Sometimes they take years, and sometimes they end before they begin. They end when one day, you break the habit and keep the box of chamomile back in the cupboard only to choose some mint instead. They end when an old coffee machine goes bust suddenly and takes away every memory held into it. They end with an unanswered phone call, words that are not spoken or a message that is never sent. They end in death, or at least, coming as close to it as one can without dying. They even end in the middle, sometimes.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently about stories, it’s that when the stories don’t make sense, you have to let them go. Of course, it’s difficult. It is perhaps, the most challenging thing you’ll ever do, but like most essential things in life, you have to do it whether you like it or not. The trick is to not expect a loud thud when you close the story. Sometimes, you just have to leave it be and let it end softly.

You have to get up from a table where you’re not welcome anymore. Yet, it doesn’t have to be after an argument. It can be after a hug, whether you mean it or not. You don’t have to tell someone to never call you again anymore; you can simply stop answering the phone, making some dumb excuse on a text message later. You don’t have to stop helping people altogether, but maybe, there is wisdom in learning to help yourself first.

You can slowly let all stories end. Often, if you don’t, they will end anyway, but it will be loud, and it will hurt. Sometimes, the hurt will be more than you can take. Sometimes, all stories you’ve ever known and held onto for way beyond their welcome will end in the span of half a year, leaving you scrambling for meaning.

When that happens, let new stories form.

You’ll learn that stories take a long time to form, however. So, it will all feel empty and meaningless for some time. Trust me, though, there will be new stories. Whether you like them or not is a different question, but there will always be new stories.

If there’s an ounce of happiness in life, it’s in mastering the only trick to exist; the trick is letting all stories form and end, all on their own.