Kristin Armstrong: We Are All Starring in Our Own Film
By Kristin Armstrong
Illustration by Whitney Avra
Back in the day, people shared stories around the campfire as a means of passing wisdom from generation to generation. When Jesus was walking around, he told parables to translate deeper spiritual insight and lessons into more relatable stories. The Buddhist Zen stories contain profound messages in a similar way. Apparently, humans have an easier time seeing the bigger picture through the lens of story.
In our media-driven culture today, parables are conveyed in film, even in some Netflix series. What was once delivered via spoken word or ink on a page is now alive in action, dialogue, emotion, special effects, lighting and music.
Film can be so engaging and Netflix can be so binge-worthy that we pay more attention to other people’s stories and lose awareness that we, too, are living our own film. In fact, we are screenwriting, directing, editing, casting and starring in our own story. It can be unsettling to consider this, particularly if you have narrated your life from the perspective of a victim (of circumstances, or of other people’s drama). Empowerment comes when we’re able to shift the mindset that events happen to us, realizing instead that we get to choose what happens – or at least how we respond.
We can choose the cinematography of our life by deciding what we want to look at. We can decide if we want to co-star with a best actor or actress, or if we want to keep rehearsing with stunt doubles and extras. We can choose if we want more drama, more comedy, more action or more epic adventure. We can change scenes, we can work with a plot twist, we can edit and rewrite, we can do a second take, we can practice some improvisation.
“We are screenwriting, directing, editing, casting and starring in our own story.”
I know what it is to be a supporting actress, to lose my plotline and my voice in someone else’s film. And I know what it is to write and direct for myself. I like to think consciously about my own story, the parable of my life, especially now that I am about halfway through. I think it’s helpful to take a brief intermission before the second act, and check in with my intentions. I intend for my second act to be all about love.
I want to love my children in a new way, in alignment with who and where they are today. This year, all my children will be in college. They still need their mom, and always will. But I am needed in a different and dynamic way. I am a consultant, a bank, a travel agent, a source of comfort, an encourager, a listener, a lighthouse, a touchstone. When I look at them, I see the sum of every age they have ever been and my love for them is irrevocable and timeless. I get to ask, “Do you just want me to listen, do you want me to listen and ask questions, or do you want to know what I think?” I get to swim to this new space, almost like a sandbar, treading familiar waters of mothering and venturing into the open ocean of friendship. I get to savor this earned delight. I get to love these people so well that they can leave (and return) with ease.
I want to love my friends and family with a deeper sense of reverence and appreciation. I want them to know the vastness of what that love means; how far and how deep it extends; how much I want the very best for them, whether that means holding on or letting go. I want to show up in a way that signifies all of me, all in. I want to love a man, my man, in a way that I am now capable of, my edges worn smooth and warm like sea glass, taking full responsibility for my own energy, my own happiness. I want to fully inhabit the woman I was created to be.
I want to love my readers by offering words well-chosen, translating emotions and experiences into universal connection and resonance that lifts us all higher. I want to love my clients with my best, ever-evolving translation of unconditional love, inviting them to experience freedom and acceptance in my presence, and in their own. I want to be a conduit and a collaborator, a partner in healing and transformation. I want to work together to love, accept and feed the caterpillar; be patient, gentle and intentional with the cocoon; and celebrate the butterfly. I want every single one of us who wants to fly to grow wings.