Do the stories we tell ourselves empower us or hold us back? What is your story? Is it true? Is there a greater story which each of us cannot see?

These questions gave me pause several years back as I sat on the front porch with the old man who watched me grow up in the neighborhood. As we sipped our iced tea and gazed across at my family’s house he asked me if I really knew who I was. I replied by telling my stories from childhood, adolescence and more recent stories from the past few years, believing that my stories were who I was.

As he poured us a fresh glass of tea he said, “I hear you, but is that who you are?” He then proceeded to tell stories about me as a young child from his vantage point across the street. They were made up of small vignettes such as; watching me put my dog in my wagon and pull it down the street, crashing my bicycle into the light pole, backing out of the driveway in my first car, Mother and Dad and the various ways they showed their love, my first visit home after going off to training in the Marine Corps, and a few more.

He told me things about myself I never knew. Some stories made me laugh, some made me sad, and others left me pondering how my life might be different today had I been able to see myself from across the street.

From time to time now as I become wound up in the drama of life I think to pause and ask myself, “Is the story I am telling myself in this moment the real story? Is it true? Is this story really who I am? Is this story holding me back, or can I use it to propel myself forward?”

Circles of Men by Clay Boykin is available on Amazon.