When I wrote the song Writing A Better Story I was in the process of doing some very deep inner work, which included stories of personal trauma but also legacy burdens that had been carried for generations and finally given to me. There are stories I carry and you carry that support us, sustain us, inspire us to be kinder better people and work for the better kinder world. There are stories we carry of courage and resilience that support a renewable kind of hope. But there are also stories that wounded us, made us doubt our own value, and cast a shadow our own sense of sacredness and worthiness. In this song I was claiming a new story, writing a better story than some of the ones I’d been carrying. It was a song about forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness does not mean or imply forgetting, but rather the kind of forgiveness that implies intention, and an expansion of compassion, that extends even to ourselves.
Writing a Better Story was a song that could not have been written even a year before. I believe we come to a new story when the heart is ready. There is a line in the song “I’m grateful for the words that I bookmarked, before I really knew I would need them for this part.” I think the soul leans into wholeness, it is gathering to itself what it needs for the next growing edge. I have a dear friend what often tells me, “Carrie, you are right where you need to be.” I like that, and think of her words often. My friends, everything has brought you here and you have everything you need to take the next step. Today is when you can end or rewrite a dangerous or harmful story, claim an empowering story or deepen the truest most sacred stories you have and hold.
I'm a writer, a songwriter and a poet. I am fascinated by the complicated narratives of human condition. I’m in love the wordless stories that rise up in a beautiful melody. I am moved by the ache and awe of deepest stories of the heart and spirit. I’m sustained by the stories of what is boundless and true in the natural world. Something I have learned as a writer is that every single day I wake up with a clean page. Each one of us awaken at the dawn with a pen and open notebook. I can write on that new page about shame, unworthiness, hopelessness or division, or I can write something truer and deeper and more life giving. If I’m honest, there are days I write a little of both. But what I do know is that there is power in our personal stories of courage and good intention. There is strength in our collective stories, the one that are grounded in compassion, service and kindness. And that there is danger in the stories told ear to ear, social media post to post of distrust, othering and fear. I once had someone tell me, “Carrie, you’re a folksinger, isn’t hope in the general job description?” Which made me laugh. And it is true, I am a folksinger and so I tend to be ridiculously sincere. And yet I know that hope is not a default, it is a choice, it is daily intention and action. Writing a better story is not a given, it is an intention, it is how we lean into the next great turning.
Encapsulated in this song is something I’ve come to known, deep in my bones—that nothing changes without love, not true, long lasting and world-shaking change. Its love, always love. Nothing else even bumps the dial. I can tell a story or love or a story of fear. I’m choosing each day to smooth down that clean page and tell a better story.
So let us all honor the stories that gave us courage and personal grounding, the stories that brought us here, the finest ones the ancestors carried for us until we could carry them for ourselves. Let us acknowledge the stories that its time to finally release, to name the dragon so that the dragon can fall and transform into winged wisdom and insight. Let us build a new collective story of healing and the rise of a new power on earth, based in love, supported by love and extended in love.
For more inspiration, join a week-long Mystical Music Pod with Carrie Newcomer that starts on February 19th. More details and sign up information here.
Syndicated from “A Gathering of Spirits”, A space and newsletter created by Carrie Newcomer 'for folks who are moved by music, poetry and art, who are living in process, who are worried about the brokenness of the world and wondering how to live humbly, courageously and compassionately in such beautiful and messy times.' Carrie Newcomer is a songwriter, recording artist, performer and educator. She has been described as a "prairie mystic" by the Boston Globe and one who "asks all the right questions" by Rolling Stone Magazine. Carrie has 19 nationally released albums on Available Light & Concord/Rounder Records including Until Now, The Point of Arrival and The Beautiful Not Yet. Newcomer has released three books of poetry & essays, A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays, The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems and Essays & Lyrics, and Until Now: Poetry by Carrie Newcomer.
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On Feb 17, 2022Patrick Wolfe wrote:
Lovely song, lovely post. "Writing a Better Story was a song that could not have been written even a year before. I believe we come to a new story when the heart is ready. There is a line in the song 'I’m grateful for the words that I bookmarked, before I really knew I would need them for this part.' I think the soul leans into wholeness, it is gathering to itself what it needs for the next growing edge." My lived experience supports these observations. It may be decades before the meaning of some of the things we've bookmarked become clear to us. Now, I'm going to listen to the song again.
"Name the dragon ... so it can transform into winged wisdom"♡
As a Narrative Therapy Practitioner, and a survivor, I wholeheartedly agree. And would also add: it can be liberating to look at the layers of stories that influence how we see ourselves and each other and to know we have such wisdom as experts in our own lived experiences. We are also allowed to explore our life narratives for the stories that might be a bit buried and might help us see our worthy selves more fully and clearly.