Many books have a prologue. It is an opportunity to meet characters where they are at that moment in time. The prologue provides all the necessary information for the story to begin. The thing I love best about a prologue is that it does not determine the story; it informs it. Everything that has happened up until “now” is simply the background. It provides context. As a reader, we don’t limit the story based on the prologue. We keep reading. Whether the character is real or fictional, we know there is more.

Our lives also have a prologue. Everything that has ever happened has brought us to where we are at this point in time. Rather than seeing everything that has happened to date as a prologue, there is a tendency to limit what can happen on what has already happened. There is a sense that the prologue is the whole story. It’s not. There are more pages. There is an epilogue.

If you jump to the last chapter of a book and read the epilogue, you know a lot has to happen in the middle. Curiosity keeps us reading. We want to know how the character gets from here (the prologue) to there (the epilogue). The difference between a book and our lives is that the author of a book often writes the epilogue first. In the case of a biography, the story is reflective.

What if we wrote the epilogue of our lives today? How different might our life be if we had a vision for how it all turns out? How much influence would that yield in the stories of our lives? If we wrote our legacy, how much could we influence our narrative? By writing the epilogue, you set the goal. Each day would then require living intentionally to bring that goal into existence.

As with the character in the book, we know there will be obstacles to overcome. By having written the ending first, we have the opportunity to look at these challenges with curiosity: how will I conquer this one! I always want the struggle in my life to be meaningful. I think we all do. It is only in looking backwards that we can see the meaning we have made from our life’s challenges. It is in retrospect that we see how challenges and our reactions to them have influenced our life story. It is often hard to find the meaning in the middle of a challenge. To know that there is one to be had takes faith.

If we think from the end (epilogue) and consider everything that has gotten us to this point (prologue) as only part of the story, it empowers us to find and live our life’s purpose. It encourages us towards a life of curiosity and adventure. It takes us from passively wondering what happens next to taking up a pen and writing. We all have a story inside us waiting to be told. It is up to each of us to claim its authorship.

 

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” Margaret Atwood

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