Letters to the Kids, “Once Upon a Time”

Writing this about two weeks before my move to LA. I’m looking at an end to the life I’ve known. I’ve been working to this for twenty years of my life. All that work is finally paying off. I’m on my way…

That… is… a… lie.

Nothing is ever so simple. Nothing is ever so storybook. It’s a simple, classical hero tale, making understanding a very complex reality something that you can package up in a pretty little myth. Life doesn’t work that way. I didn’t set a star and sail the ship for twenty years. I was a dumb kid, like you, like everyone else. I fucked things up. I got married, divorced, remarried, compromised, put my dreams on the back burner for years at a time, as I worked a job, lived a life day to day. I built resentments, lost goals, failed, failed again, failed again. I also had a lot of fun. I made a few close friends. I shared lives through some good and bad times, with real, flawed, great people.

I love the definition of the word story. English is full of little gems like this word, terms with ambiguous definitions and uses. The notion of a “true story” is even more amusing to me. Lies and legends, that’s what stories are. Legends lead into another term, maps. You use a map to navigate, to find your way. Legends help you read the map, holding symbols to help you interpret it. Stories then help you navigate life. They’re a tool to a purpose, and beyond that purpose, they are not useful.

To that end, your life is not a story. You’re not the hero. There are no villains. There is no story arc, no destiny. While you will understand your life in these terms, they are just the map… not the territory.