My Stories, Myself, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

Driving into Arches National Park in Utah, I have this joyous feeling: I have never been so happy in my life! I am with my beloved husband and two glorious grandsons. It is a precious time.

Then, I remember a saying I heard in the news, “Everyone is living a desperate life inside too. Be kind”. I have a desperate life inside of me also. It feels less desperate the more I know WHO I AM. My grandson tells the story of an African American teacher at his high school who replied to the question, by mostly white students, “How do you manage so much racial violence in this country?”  His answer was: “I just focus on knowing who I am.”  

I loved that answer.

So what’s my story? And, do my stories ever change ME? I was reading Rachel Naomi Remen, who says she heard somewhere we need our stories more than food to survive! My stories tell me about who I am, they help me decide what is possible for me, and they help me define what I may call upon. However, my story, as well as your story, is never finished. I keep adding to my story. Every new birth and every next death as well as every experience, every "ah-ha" moment, every study and book I read, every person I meet, all add to and continue to define my story.

I am reminded of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:


Love the questions (about yourself) as if they were
Locked rooms or books written in a foreign language.
Don’t watch for answers,
Which could not be given to you now,
Because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far into the future,
You will gradually, without even noticing it, 
Live your way into the answers.

I am sitting in the cleft of a rock in the shade.  My family has scrambled up the trail in 100 degree sun. I am in the shade. . . waiting . . . enjoying who I Am and adding to my stories and to myself. I am living my way into my stories, into my answers.

Susan Austin-Crumpton
Executive Director & Founder
The Estuary, Inc.