In this post, I introduce the concept of emerging story to explain why we may not know who is the most significant person or which romantic relationship is the most important in our lives until we are about to die.
What is an emerging story?
For average people including myself, our life story is an emerging story. Emerging story is we begin our life journey with little knowledge of who we are, we don’t know what we want in life. Life unfolds from the direction of unconsciousness to consciousness, from minimal self-awareness to mature self-awareness. Through the interplay with significant others and life events, we discover who we are and the purpose of our existence. I coin the term “emerging story” to describe this kind of development. The best life example I can think of to illustrate an emerging story is Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech in 2005.
For many of us, life is a self-discovery journey in the context of an emerging story. If we are un-aware, we merely live in this emerging story. When we are aware, we live the story. Awakening to life, we write and talk about our emerging story with an authentic voice.
There are three important elements in the journey of constructing our emerging story: 1) There is no innate good and bad, or right and wrong in the events, people, experiences and choices scattered throughout the emerging story. What seems bad at one time may bring good later and vice versa. 2) Chances and environment have more impact on emerging stories. 3) With the greater degree of freedom within, we would have more choices of causal outcomes to ascribe meaning in our story.
When we live the story, we become aware that our partners who come into our lives is to help us to awaken. Some people may ask which soulmate relationship is the most important in our life.
Three reasons why we don’t know who is the love of our life until we are about to die
In the first chapter “Essay in Love”, Alain writes “Until one is close to death, it must be difficult to declare anyone as the love of one’s life,” (Alain De Botton, 993). He does not explain why we do not know who is the love of our life until we are about to face our death.
1-Significance is contextual
If event A does not happen, event or person B will not follow. Without event A and person B, event C or person C would never happen or come into our lives. The existence of event C or person C is due to event A and person B. How significance of the current partner in our life will depend on how the previous events in our lives have unfolded. Because life is a continuous process, now becomes past and future becomes now. Standing in the flow of time, it is difficult for many of us who has a complex life to pick out who is the love of our life in this unfolding process.
2-Unknow-ness means possibilities
The second reason we don’t know how significance our current partner in this moment is due to we don’t know our future. There may be other person(s) come into our lives in the future who are more significant than our current partner.
3- How significance our partner depends how we ascribe the meaning to the emerging story
It is only in hindsight, by connecting the dots of all significant events and people who comes into our life, a complete picture emerges. We ascribe a relative value to each person or event in this picture based on the meaning we choose. Because we have a choice to use causal outcome in ascribing meaning to our life experiences, the theme of our life is not static as we can re-assign the meaning to our life based on the same facts and people. Which soulmate relationship is most significant will depend on the life theme we ascribe to our love story.
How do you know your current lover is the one, the love of your life?
How do you see life, fluid or static?