Remember the story Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson? It’s an old favorite. In it, a small boy uses a single purple crayon to draw the world he then enters and experiences:
One evening Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. But there wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. Fortunately, he had brought his purple crayon. So he drew a moon. He also needed a path to walk on. So he drew a path…
Wisely, Harold knew to draw what he needed most to make for a successful journey. He fashioned boundaries for safety and landmarks for guideposts. He drew a boat when the water got too high and sketched a purple pie when hunger struck. (If only it were so easy to scribble up a vanilla latte!)
We, too, have more power than we know to create our own stories. True, we may need a few more resources than a single crayon. And given life’s complexity, we’ll never have the luxury of writing our parts on a blank white page. But what we do have is the slate of our thoughts. And we can always choose our actions and reactions to whatever comes our way. Only we get to decide how we will view and interpret them. We can let our experiences control us, or we can see each one as its own guidepost offering lessons to propel us forward in positive ways.
We all relate to the power of stories. Lovers, heroes, and villains have played out endless adventures on pages, stages, and screens through the ages. Sometimes, we’re the lover or the hero. At other times, we may be the villain or see ourselves as the victim. And the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are the most powerful of all.
I once told myself a (false) story that said I could never be a public speaker… that no one would ever listen… that neither my voice nor my courage was up to the challenge. But by learning more about myself through Kabbalah, I began to rewrite that tale. I had to consciously erase the old tale of self-doubt and, like Harold, imagine and draw a new one–a vision that stayed with me through years of continued study, hard work, and practice. Slowly, I gained confidence in my speaking. By tapping into my connection with the Creator, that self-doubt was vanquished by my greater desire to share and impart consciousness to others. Today, I confidently and joyfully speak across continents to audiences ranging from a few to thousands. This is what can happen when you rewrite a story that no longer works for you. And through this process, you’ll come to realize that the old story was never true to begin with!
Sometimes, we are met with challenging times, times of sadness, or even trauma. We didn’t write or draw these… but they happen to all of us. We may not be able to erase them, but we can choose to resee them. When our second son Josh was born with Down Syndrome, I admit that, for a moment (or maybe a few moments), I envisioned a dark and thorny path ahead for us both. But that narrative never manifested. Why? Because through each moment and each day of Josh’s upbringing, we chose to write the story another way. Our family’s story has been one of wonder, blessings, and immense growth. And the experience of having and raising Josh, along with his three siblings, has taught me too many lessons to list–among them patience, kindness, selflessness, and unconditional love.
And so it is with all of our challenges. We can see them as harbingers of doom, or we can view them as they truly are: important threads in the fabric of our becoming. After all, the slaying of the mythical dragon surely brought far more growth than did any happy walk through the castle garden. The tough moments help us hone our strength and resilience. They teach us to find blessings in the darkest places, where the Light of the Creator shines most brightly.
We may believe that our negative stories are too ingrained to ever change. Maybe we suffered a difficult childhood. Or perhaps a failure we once experienced led us to believe that we can’t or shouldn’t pursue something… or that, somehow, we are damaged by our past. But what we think is ingrained can also be reversed. The Rav noted that “the tree sets the example, growing against the laws of nature, of gravitation. It grows up. Goes up.” Likewise, if we work each day to rewrite our own negative narratives–to realize that this was a false story that was told to me (or created by me)–we can defy the gravity of our limiting beliefs and lift ourselves to new beginnings.
What stories are you telling yourself that may be holding you back from one or more of your dreams? And which elements in your current story do you think need to change?
From here, let the drafting begin! Include statements that propel you towards a more positive plotline:
● I understand that my past does not define my future.
● I deserve unconditional love/my dream career, etc.
● I am never a victim when I view circumstances as lessons and springboards for growth.
● I can do anything I set my mind to do!
As the Rav also (and often) said, consciousness is everything. The Universe will always meet you halfway if you have a strong desire and take steps each day towards manifesting that desire in your life.
So today, consider the power of Harold’s purple crayon–and remember that you, too, have magical story-making powers. Start with a sketch. Fill in the words, lines, and shapes as you go. This is your story! And the best part? You can even choose your own color. Or, if you’re feeling bold, go ahead and use them all.