The Secret Life of Bees: A Story
I picked up a deliciously worn copy of "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd yesterday at the Thrift store. (I know I'm behind the times on this one, but am glad I read the book instead of seeing the movie first.)
(For those who haven't read this, I highly recommend it. The lessons of the book are for another post.)
I started reading it the second we got into the car. Much to my husband's amusement, I kept reading it between picking up our daughter and son, doing work around the house, and even intermittently during a movie he had rented. I finished it last night.
I don't often read fiction but when I do, it is hard for me to stop. I find part of myself won't let go of the story.
Yesterday, even while driving down the road, part of me kept thinking of the story. The characters, as if frozen, holding their breath, waiting to make their next move until I could read again. They did not disappear - they were there, just in a different reality.
It is as if I expected to look over at the stoplight and see the character from my book sitting in the car next to me. They live somewhere in my consciousness and do not rest simply because the book is closed or t.v. is off.
The thing is - all books have a final page. All t.v. shows and movies have final credits. And when the end is reached, the story is over. It is up to me if and how I choose to continue it.
What do I take from the story, if anything? Is it worth me re-hashing how Barney could have picked up that girl ("How I Met Your Mother") or if I agree with the parenting techniques on Modern Family? Is it valuable to reflect on the lessons of the bees and the divine feminine present in "The Secret Life of Bees"? How do I untangle my reality from that of Inception or Avatar or The Matrix?
It is the same with stories in our lives.
We tell ourselves stories, we live them, we create them. Some are harder to put down than others. Perhaps they whisked us off to a fantasy world (like an unbelievable vacation or romantic escape). Or perhaps they struck a chord of fear that won't seem to stop vibrating (like abuse or a deep loss).
Perhaps the stories are the reality we live, stories in which we are so engrossed we can't see that they are just stories.
Sometimes those stories hold valuable lessons for us. It could be as simple as noticing that we need to lighten our mood or as deep as inviting us to consider what life is at its core.
But all stories have an end.
It is up to us if and how we choose to continue them.
My advice? Take the quips, the quotes, the lessons. Memorize the words and essence of a story if it is a tale to be passed on. But let go of the story itself.
We do not want to allow what is not (the past or the future) to speak louder than what is (the present).
Go. Live your stories. Let go. Live again.