In the New York Times this week there was an intriguing examination of what is called 'expressive writing'.
"The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.
Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioural changes and improve happiness."
We all do it; that's what the three of us were doing over coffee, orally mind you and the evidence collected so far is about the written word and the written word has a power that we will explore deeply in this blog. But when I read the article, after accidentally encountering the two guys at the cafe I found myself returning again and again to the idea of 'writing and rewriting' my personal story. It is something I have been preoccupied with these past couple of years and I can testify to the fact that it does change you, it does challenge you, it does reshape how you see yourself and your world.
That's what integrating one's life experiences is possibly all about, a re-telling, or re-understanding perhaps of what the arc and narrative of life so far has been and what the arc and narrative not yet written might be. I learned a great deal about those two strangers in just a half hour through listening to the condensed version of their lives so far. I suspect they learned much about me, not the whole me by any stretch but perhaps hints of the me that I am now trying to put forward front and centre. How that image might morph over the years is not clear to me at all but writing it and re-writing it is going to be fascinating.
Human beings are story tellers, it maybe the thing that made us significantly different from the ape, though that might just be the story we tell and are sticking to. P.