“I left my baby in the car all day and she died of heat stroke,” said the teacher on Oprah, “and I knew her death was a lesson. So, to give meaning to myself, I made myself into a motivational speaker on the importance of slowing down and paying attention to this moment, even in this hurry-hurry, rush-rush, serve-the machine world.”
Somehow, the idea that anyone who faces challenges in their lives can be redeemed by polishing their story to palatable reduction and selling it as a simplified lesson for all, that salvation comes from testifying to how we learned from our own moment in hell, that transcendence comes from engaging and honed confession, well, it just makes me a bit queasy.
Our story isn’t about others, and our shaping our story to give others some kind of thrilling tale often ends up separating us from the real experiences of life.
Yes, we become story, but when that story is craftily constructed to appear redemptive, well, maybe all we are learning is how to use the conventions of the motivational speaker to insulate ourselves from challenging, messy, awesome and real humanity.