illusion – noun –
implies a false ascribing of reality based on what one sees or imagines. Merriam-Webster
Can we choose how we perceive?
A friend once said to me “I’ve decided that each morning when I wake up I’m going to believe that all that happens is for the best.”
I thought he was kidding. Dark humor was his brand, and he told the best stories about bad things happening of anyone I knew, “But you’re so cynical,” I said, trying to imagine life without those stories, “How are you going to do this?”
“By taking my unshakable belief that the world is out to punish me and turning it on its head,” he shrugged. “So what if I’m mistaken to believe that some higher power is benevolent. The worst that could happen is I won’t suffer as much while I wait to find out for sure.”
“What brought this on?” I asked.
“It’s exhausting being miserable.”
I confess here that it took me a while to catch on to what he was telling me. I got the concept of flipping that switch – I just couldn’t do it for myself.
But something began to take hold as I taught and coached creative writing. Many of my clients came to me after trauma or loss, and I saw that as they wrote they began to explore their experiences in creative ways. Whether they wrote memoir or fiction, prose or poetry, the process of telling stories, of working out the details and shape of what happened, where and with who, was transformative. Writing their stories helped them to feel better.
I thought many times about my friend’s words, and over time it became clear to me how each of us has infinite opportunities to choose how we perceive – and the choices we make can move us toward feeling better.
We see what we believe. And creative writing can help us to transform the stories that shape our beliefs.
I write for the side effects.