In eager anticipation of the movie Life of Pi, being released this week (November 21, 2012), I’m sharing a post I wrote in April of 2011. Read on to see how YOUR choices, Your intention, and how you tell Your story matters.
Inspired by the Novel, Life of Pi
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, is an allegorical novel, one whose essence has stayed with me for over a decade. I found the book fascinating, with its multi layered plot, the numerous religious themes presented, and the magical happenings woven throughout. And all the while, the author subtly nudges the reader to answer in his mind, Do you believe in God? And if you do believe in God, Are stories/fables necessary in order for you to believe?
To summarize the novel would be difficult, even if I had just finished reading it. And as it’s been years, I’ll offer a general summary, not giving anything away.
Life of Pi Summary
The main character is Pi Patel, a 16-year-old Indian boy, who has embraced and simultaneously chosen to practice Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. He, along with his family and the zoo animals from his father’s zoo, attempt to immigrate to Canada by way of a Japanese cargo ship. While crossing the Pacific Ocean, the ship sinks, and Pi finds himself on a 26-foot long lifeboat, alone with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger. The dynamic between Pi and Richard Parker (the Bengal tiger whose name I’ll never forget — not Richard, always Richard Parker), was curious, beautiful, intriguing, and ever changing and growing, like any rich relationship.
After the sinking of the ship, and A-L-L that happens between that time and when Pi is rescued (227 days later!), he tells his story to two Japanese Ministry of Transport employees who are investigating the cause of the sinking. Pi is a skilled, engaging storyteller, but no matter how skilled and engaging he is, these two men express deep skepticism — is this kid for real?! Trapped with a Bengal tiger on a lifeboat for 227 days? After pressing him further, Pi abandons his original story, and offers the men a more believable story, one that parallels the first, but is much easier for these two men to swallow.
We All Tell Stories
Every day we tell stories, which become our stories, who we are. On a good day, our stories are well received; we may even be given praise for our brilliance. At a minimum, we want to be listened to and acknowledged for the contribution we’ve made. Knowing that we’ve helped a friend in pain through the telling of our story, or perhaps that we’ve provided a humorous story for entertainment both fall into the category of: ‘it’s a good day to tell a story’. Other times, like Pi, we attempt to tell our stories, only to be met with disbelief or skepticism. And in those times, we have a choice. We can choose to plow ahead, buyer beware, declaring, “This is my story, and I’m sticking to it!” Or, we can choose to alter our story, like Pi, making it more palpable for the listener.
And IF we decide to change our story for the benefit of the listener, what reaction do we have? Do we shrug our shoulders and walk away carefree or with a heavy heart? By changing our story, do we feel we gave away a piece of ourselves, or not?
Choice and Intention
The topic of choice is not new to you frequent Trust Life Today (TLT) readers — we choose our perception, we choose our attitude, our thoughts, our beliefs. But overshadowing choice is our intention. And our intention has everything to do with US, not the recipient of our story. Being clear on your intention takes the pressure off how your story is received. And if you’re not anxious about how it (you) will be received, then telling your story becomes an act of self, a way to share your Truth, your humorous tale, your passion, your fears, your love.
Telling your story becomes a way to honor yourself and celebrate you.
The What-If Game
The alternative is coming at it from the other side. Instead of focusing on your intention, by shifting your focus to how your story is going to be received, you end up with a lot of playing the What-If game. What if I embellish this? Will he think I’m smarter? More interesting? What if I omit that? Will she think I’m a better parent? Or maybe she won’t get mad at me. What if, what if, what if?? This is some serious monkey-mind, completely useless chatter, and can spiral out of control. And with each spiral, you become less you. You become less real.
At this point, I have to ask, what are you trusting? … Are you trusting?
Let’s look at a breakdown of your intention versus how others receive your story (YOU).
Intention Received by Others
Inner Focused – YOU Centered Outward Focused – THEM Centered
lowers anxiety & pressure monkey-mind
loving act of self endless & useless chatter
share your Truth spiral out of control
honor yourself energy drain
celebrate you become less you, less real
Why Two Stories in Life of Pi?
To be clear, I’m not criticizing Pi for changing his story. I believe the author was very clear in his intention by having Pi tell both stories. In telling a more fable-like story, the author pushed the limits of what these two Japanese Ministry employees (and the reader) thought they could believe. At times they questioned themselves and dared to think in more abstract terms. And in contemplating a boy at sea, a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, a Bengal tiger, and the extremely rich story that was woven, the author draws numerous parallels for the reader about the undeniable existence of God.
We all can’t tell stories like Yann Martel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Wally Lamb, or Isabelle Allende. But we can tell our story.
Know your intention. Tell your story.
“Every life is, ultimately, a story with a message.” ~ Toni Raiten-D-Antonio
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