“The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions.” … Michael Margolis, Educator, Anthropologist.
I met someone at a networking function recently who was telling me about a tribe she is familiar with in the Amazon, the Achuar people. The Achuar believe you can dream your future to life. Furthermore, on a nightly basis during dreaming, they believe the soul departs the body and enters a multiverse where anything is possible and anything can be learned.
This idea of dreaming a new future is important in conflict too. As humans, we are storytellers and the stories we tell have a role in dreaming our future into being as well.
I saw this illustrated myself in a Theatre for Living play I saw a few months ago on reconciliation called Home. In the play, audience members are asked to come up to re-enact certain scenes on stage. The audience member would choose one character from the scene to portray, and the rest of the actors in the scene remain on stage. The audience member would try something new – they would attempt to tell a new story.
An affecting scene I remember was about a mom apologizing to her son for something she had done. In the re-enactment, the audience member chose to be the “mom” and redid the scene. In the debrief afterward, the audience member said she realized when she was in the middle of the re-enactment, that she was living in a different re-enactment. She realized she was recalling an apology scene she had witnessed her grandmother delivering to her own mother on her mother’s deathbed. In playing the role of a mother apologizing that night on stage, the audience member was living in her grandmother’s story – her grandmother’s apology.
Such is the power of dreaming a new future and the power, at times, of the past showing up as our present. We are living in our stories about ourselves, and the stories we make up about each other.
What stories are you stuck in and how can you dream a new future?
If you have an interest in the Achuar, check out this article (thank you Andrea Langlois).