A young dog was jumping and running back and forth against my feet. I reached down, took control of the dog, and had the dog, sitting at my feet. As soon as the dog was calm, I started to pet him. That is the driving imperative in myself– calm the chaos and direct it towards a goal. I do this with dogs, cats, and little humans. I don’t even know that I am doing it until I notice or my hubby notices.
I think that is one of the reasons I like to write stories. I can feel the words, sentences, and paragraphs. When my mind is out of the brain fog, I can feel the structure of the story bend in my mind. When I finish a story, I have somehow channeled the chaos into a cause and effect and a try/fail and try again cycle.
As a young girl Andre Norton’s Witch World stories provided a template. I knew that if I learned skills and worked hard, one day I could leave and care for myself. I could break from a family and world that didn’t understand that I needed to have something much more than the confined society of my family and religion. One day I could run away.
Because those stories showed me how hard it was for a child to succeed in the adult world, I was able to control my impulse to run away from some very harsh circumstances until I was able to leave on my own terms.
Not every instance has my life been like story or had elements that I could control. For instance, when I was diagnosed with a Vasculitis disease and told that it was from no fault of my own (I was in excellent health except for that one thing– that almost killed me).
The doctor was trying to give me absolution, but he gave me despair instead. I had done every thing right, but it still went all wrong? What is the justice in that. I have already gone through a lot through my life that wasn’t easy– or fair. Life, of course, is not fair.
My mind almost broke under that idea– There had to be a reason for my illness. Yes, the reason is I have a gene that when triggered will cause the disease. The doctors don’t know the trigger. I suspect it was organic chemicals and other things I was exposed to as an electronic tech. There is no test that can tell us now– just my suspicions. (and possibly the silver amalgamate in my teeth– my disease got under control better as I had more of the fillings taken out).
But there is no reason for many of the things that happen to us. Story is my way of controlling outcomes– although if I am honest I don’t even control that– the characters take over and I am surprised as anyone else at the endings of my stories.
So yes, I wonder if story structure or the search for meaning is coded into our brains so that we don’t go insane. We need meaning– I need meaning to continue on this hard path.