Sometimes I crave Walter Kronkite. Or the idea of him (he was way before my time). What I mean to say is that I crave an objective narrator, a singular, reassuring voice interpreting the world, making sense of the senseless, like a child seeking a bedtime story. But I know that this is a myth, that life never has just one angle. It’s a fragment of angles, 7 billion actually, each echoing out through the atmosphere and then bouncing back.
There is no singular vision.
Have you watched The Affair? Or read Fates and Furies or City On Fire or Gone Girl? I’m noticing a growing trend: subjectivity is in. It’s not new, of course, but it seems, especially in the current cultural climate, to reign supreme. The third person, author as God narrative is, it seems, out of fashion.
It has something to do with us waking up spiritually, I think.
“I just want a formula. If I can figure out the formula, then everything will make sense,” my collegiate mentee recently announced, self-mockingly. Boys, career. It’s all so overwhelming. We want to know, we want a narrative that makes sense, where all the pieces fit into a rainbow parabola, reaching a peak before slowly settling into old age. But life, of course, doesn’t work like that. No, life is a mess. Not a 3 act structure.
There is no objective truth, no answers, no closure. There is only mystery. And more mystery, with bursts of clarity and light between. So how do we navigate this? How do we make sense of it, especially in our ever spinning, ever distracted universe?
We start with ourselves. First, we recognize that we have a lens at all. Consciousness begins with self-awareness, the knowledge that we have thoughts and that those thoughts are shaped by our interpretation of events, not the events themselves. And these stories can cage and imprison us and keep us separate.
That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: they can also bridge the distance between us.
Because we all have a story. And when we recognize the origins of our story and our perspective, we can begin to see others’. We’re not as defiant in our conclusions. We see that there are, in fact, multiple narratives. From this place, we lean into empathy. And into one another, eager to embrace the complexity.
And, most of all, we start to surrender this need for some external voice of reason and certitude. We realize that everyone, even those we admire and exalt, is simply working through their own experience, their own lens and yes, their own bias.
Even Walter Kronkite.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.