Love First
Published in

Love First

Find Your North Star

A picture of imagined constellations drawn on top of a night sky full of stars.
Original photo by Caleb Woods

Note: this is a Legacy story, preserved but superseded by the Love First Reboot.

I want to change the world through storytelling.

That’s it. That’s my mission, my life’s ultimate North Star: to change the world through storytelling. It may yet evolve into something new, or different, but for more than 18 years now that has been my dream.

So how am I going to accomplish it?

It’s a rather ambitious goal, yes; of that I am aware. I figured long ago that were I to create but a single purpose with my life, I might as well set my sights on the moon.

I wound up taking a bit of a detour getting there, but as I write this particular version of this piece today, August 8th of 2019, the path I will create to get there crystallizes with each word I leave behind. Trails of digital ink.

Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man holding a glowing, light-giving umbrella in a dark environment.
Photo by Rafael Barquero

This is your guiding light in the darkness

The North Star has been important to humans for thousands of years, not just because it is a bright, easily identifiable guiding light to orient yourself towards, but its fixed position in the sky helped people measure their progress as they traveled on great journeys.

Your life is such a journey. Your struggles and hardships are the treasures you carry, holding value only to you until you share them — as a gift, or in exchange for different things of value.

Finding your North Star is crafting the road ahead out of thin air, believing in its possibility of existing one day. Someday. A day yet to come, or rather, days yet to come. Figuring out your North Star in life is a rather tall order. Much easier is it to determine what steps you can take towards your North Star, or towards figuring it out, that are achievable in the next three months. And then the next six, the next twelve, and twenty-four. The further out you dream, the blurrier your vision gets. But one day twenty-four will be three, and the star that brings you closer to North is now a crystalline twinkle in your eye.

You can just about see it, can’t you?

My dream, evolved

I didn’t used to call it my North Star, but I wish I had. A dream is nebulous; the North Star is as consistent and ever-present as our sun. Always there. Always returning to view when you need it to.

But about a year and change ago I was having dinner with my friend Tim (for whom I’m starting a universe as a wedding gift, but that’s a story for another time), and I told him excitedly about my plans for a workshop on storytelling as a vehicle for personal transformation. As I regaled my ideas over bland guacamole and chips, Tim exposed the weakness in my vision.

“What is your North Star, here?”

Confused, I asked him what he meant.

“You get only one thing; one takeaway — if you’re lucky! — that your audience members will remember after your workshop. All the other stuff is nice, but one core idea gets to stick. Everything you do must be in service of that idea. That is your North Star.”

I realized I didn’t have one. I had three big takeaways — nine if I was being honest — and couldn’t narrow it down further. But already, gears were grinding hard in the recesses of my mind, feeling the gravity of the metaphor extend far beyond my workshop. Having a North Star was better than having a dream; it was more tangible, reusable, more powerful. It added a sense of vision and purpose to the ephemerality of a dream.

To change the world through storytelling. As a dream that had been a nebulous idea. As a North Star, it became a commitment.

A book with glowing LED wire on top of its open pages.
Photo by Nong Vang

What changing the world through storytelling looks like

Neil Gaiman has a wonderful Masterclass on The Art Of Storytelling, wherein he shares his many insights on the artistry of this craft. But what about the fundamentals? What about the basic elements, the earth, wind, fire, water, and heart of stories?

Why are stories so important? What roles do they play in human existence, past present and future? How do stories affect us physiologically, and why should we care about that? What is the power of storytelling, and have we truly tapped all of its dimensions?

When you look into these kinds of questions, when you really look, people “know” the answers, but they don’t know.

They should know. They deserve to know, because their stories are their superpower.

If I want to change the world through storytelling, it’s not enough to just write some great stories, and it’s not enough to just teach about storytelling. “Just.” People far more skilled than I have done those things before, and the world is a better place for it. We need story tellers, and we need story teachers. What I do feels a little different. It feels more like story coaching, and I think it’s something the world needs, too.

When I say “change the world”, what I mean is transform the world. Change can be reversed, but transformation is irreversible. Obama changed the world; Trump showed change can be undone.

I’m no Obama, though I like him. I’m no Trump, and he would… not understand me. I’m a half-brown, bisexual, polyamorous, atheist immigrant who dropped out of high school, got a job at Apple, and earned a genius visa through an award-winning career in design and technology. You couldn’t write my story if you tried, and, why would anyone try? I’m here, willing and eager to tell my story, myself.

Changing the world through storytelling. I used to think very one-dimensionally about that, but then I realized I was a time traveler. (Did I mention that yet?)

Silhouettes of people on a reflective ground against sunset.
Photo by Mario Purisic

The Story of Love First

I’ve always loved the Cherokee parable of the two wolves, battling within, and the one that wins is the one you feed. But it no longer works for me, instructionally, for I don’t like the idea of two sides being at conflict. To me it’s no more about which wolf you feed, but rather, what it is that you feed them. Do you feed them love, or deprive them of it?

For the past 18 months I fed myself a steady diet of love, in all its multitudinous meanings. I practiced love, in all its diamantine facets. And I built a new vocabulary for love, so that I could share it with others to live it, and benefit from it, the way I have.

That vocabulary includes telling stories, and it includes having a North Star. A twinkle in your sky. A bright beam of love in the form of light, saving untold lives from wandering astray.

I have my North Star. Do you?

Finding your North Star is not like spotting it in the dark, above your head. When it comes to yourself, and the meaning you want to give to your life, a night sky filled with billions of stars awaits. Paint! Paint your constellations in the sky, the journey of dreams that you’ll turn into stories — stepping stones between where you are today, and the North Star you’re looking to find.

Paint your sky with constellations depicting the adventures you wish to have.

I want to change the world through storytelling. Transform it. Enrich people with a greater vocabulary of love, and empower them with the understanding of how their life stories are a superpower, theirs to use as they choose.

But that’s the big one in life. The constellation right before me is one of learning, growing, and building a new success story again, doing that thing I previously called a detour. Really, though, it’s something I love.

What do you love?
Who do you want to be?
What do you want to do?
What do you want to have?
And what do you want to share with the world?

🧩 W1D2v1.0.1



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Faruk Ateş

Faruk Ateş

💖 Person. Polymath, Polyglot, Polyamorous. I support people to lead with their heart and discover their infinite capacity for greatness. (he/him/dragon)