This New Year's Eve was my first one with the little doggie. So, I found myself with a scared pile of fur cuddling right up to me (the firework madness started at 6 pm). We cranked up the music to drown out the bangs. I had thought of playing a board game with the husband, but that just wasn't really an option. So, instead, I grabbed a book by my favourite author and decided to relax into my role of canine safety blanket.
Then I came across this paragraph, which always strikes me as amazing and especially so yesterday. I will explain why, but let me share it first:
"And if you want the story, then remember that a story doesn't unwind. It weaves. Events that start in different places and different times all bear down on that one tiny point in space-time, which is the perfect moment.
Supposing and emperor was persuaded to wear a new suit of clothes whose material was so fine that, to the common eye, the clothes weren't there. And suppose a little boy pointed out this fact in a loud clear voice…
Then you have The Story of the Emperor Who Had no Clothes
But if you knew a little more, it would be The Story of the Boy Who Got a Well-Deserved Thrashing from His Dad for Being Rude to Royalty, and Was Locked Up.
Or The Story of the Whole Crowd Who Were Rounded Up by the Guard and Told "This Didn't Happen, OK? Does Anyone Want To Argue?"
Or it could be the story of how a whole kingdom suddenly saw the benefits of the 'new clothes', and developed an enthusiasm for healthy sports* in a lively and refreshing atmosphere which got many new adherents every year, and led to a recession caused by the collapse of the conventional clothing industry.
It could even be the story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of '09.
* Mostly involving big, big beach balls."
(From Thief Of Time by Terry Pratchett)
Like I said, I have always loved this view of stories. The idea that, when we slightly adjust our perspective, the story changes. When we look at our stories, our lives, our pasts, we have a default way of interpreting it. We think we know what happened and how it shaped us… but what if we take a step back, or left, or right? What if we look at thing just a LITTLE differently? Does our story change? And if it does, can we make different choices about how it influences us?
I am sure The Emperor will have been quite embarrassed when he realised what happened. Maybe he never trusted another tailor again, and only wore clothes he made himself. Or perhaps he never left the Imperial Grounds again. He may have even taught his children that tailors are traitors and are never to be trusted. Maybe he now thought of himself as gullible, and he became super suspicious. Eventually he may have become so paranoid, that he no longer tolerated anyone who disagreed with him.
I don't know of course, but I'm just trying to say that the Emperor's experience will undoubtedly have shaped him.
What Is my story about?
When I look at my story, I learnt that there are many ways it could have been seen. As it stands, it's the story of how I survived a complicated childhood, worked hard to heal myself, and found ways to help others along the way.
But take a step back, and it is the story of my husband who helped me understand what was going on. He supported me through the whole journey.
Or step the other way, and you see the story of my mother's childhood trauma, that she was unable to heal. Or the story of my father, who lost himself in an emotionally abusive relationship and lived through his fear of one of his children leaving the family for that very reason.
I am not telling you this for dramatic effect or sympathy votes. I just want to show you how every story has many viewpoints, and how we decide to think of our story, impacts the way we navigate our life.
Do you let your past experiences shape your future?
This blog post isn't meant as a quick fix. I just really want to get you thinking. Becoming aware of the echoes from your past, the way you think about your story and the way you talk to yourself as a result of this, is important when trying to figure out your future.