A Simple Message, Too Simple?

December 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm 4 comments

So, this past Sunday I delivered a speech (lay sermon, I suppose) at my Unitarian Universalist fellowship, and it was about “my personal journey to ‘Having Enough,'” focusing mostly on my decision to leave the academic career path and find happiness with a different life than that one I had earlier pursued.  The whole Sunday service was lovely, including songs about simplicity and the participation of our fellowship’s new voluntary simplicity group; I showed the Miniature Earth film that I love, and that and fellow participants delivered subtle messages about appreciating what we have.  I was happy to receive very positive reactions on my talk from many people in the audience — the topic is clearly timely and struck a chord with many.

When I shared the written sermon with my dad, though, I realized that perhaps I had actually over-simplified my journey to Having Enough in this particular storytelling.  My dad was positive and wonderful about my words and message, and went on to discuss how it was not until he faced his own mortality during his heart bypass surgery experience at age 51 that he truly began to, on the deepest level, appreciate what he had and each day he had it, although he had verbally touted that philosophy for his whole life.

In reading his words, I realized that in my Having Enough sermon I had presented my story as if it was that one decision (to leave the ivory tower) that led me to where I am. But, I realized there were several pivotal experiences in my twenties — including my dad’s heart surgery and my own heartbreak at 23 when my first long-term relationship ended in a pretty shocking way — that combined to show me this more gratifying “having enough” path I am on now in my mid-thirties.  (And, I’m sure, many other less major experiences before and since also contributed.)  None of these experiences alone brought me here, although I could tell the story of each and show its connection to my Having Enough journey.

In a way, I look at this realization as a trick of writing — how we choose to tell a story, and what details we include and leave out.  In another way, I think it is just a part of life for everyone, how we selectively remember our own experiences, triggers and connections, and how we put it all together in our rationalizing brain and our deeply-felt emotions to come up with how we perceive the world and our place in it.

Really, it is all about continuing to re-evaluate the stories we tell ourselves, and others, isn’t it?  Continuing to strive for some kind of balance, some kind of growth, some kind of deeper meaning.  I’ll remember this feeling the next time I try to tell one of my stories, and hopefully further incorporate the nuances of any supposed cause and effect in a human life.  And I’ll continue to be pleased with the fact that my Having Enough talk had a positive effect on people, though it may not have been as complete as I now see it could have been.

And so the journey continues…

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On that note… Birth Time

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carrie Benitez  |  December 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I’m glad I found this because I was bummed that I missed your talk on Sunday! My parents left that morning after a not-long-enough 2-week visit, and Sam and I felt like staying in our PJ’s at home. I knew it would be good. Congradulations on pulling it off and being pleased with the results!

    Carrie

    Reply
  • 2. David Pincus  |  December 3, 2008 at 2:33 am

    You make an astute point about our selective memories, Megan. We are, whether want to it to be true or not, the accumulation of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of moments stacked one on top of the other, and at different points in one’s life certain of those moments seem to carry more meaning in explaining who we are and why we are. It’s natural, though I firmly believe that particular moments always stand out as more pivotal than others in our minds, because of what we designate as important, as life-altering, as path-setting.

    No one can tell, nor does anybody want to hear, all the stories that comprise THE story of one’s life, or even a facet of it; thus, we choose those mini-stories we deem most representative of our self-perceptions, as well as most compelling in the telling and making key points. After all, for a story to penetrate an audience, they must first want to hear it before they will, and then must hear it enough to understand it before they can be touched and influenced by it.

    In other words, the storyteller must grab attention if there is to be any hope of going beyond. Every one of our stories is, thus, a fragment of the whole, yet hopefully a substantial fragment that peels back enough layers to reveal a glimpse of the core.

    Reply
  • 3. KA Cole  |  December 3, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I was reading you on WM and thought I would check your blog out. As a fellow ‘recovering overachiever’ ;> I think I also would have enjoyed your talk!

    Love your blog, so inspiring (!), I will be adding you to my blogroll: unbearablewriteness.blogspot.com

    Cheers,
    Kimberely

    Reply
  • 4. Shawn  |  December 15, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Just wanted to say a quick hi — how are you doing???? Congrats on speaking at UU … that’s awesome. You’re a brave woman. Wish I was there to be a part of your message.

    Reply

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Welcome!

You are visiting "Having Enough (In a Have-It-All World)"...

Blog Mission

To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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