“I used to be ashamed of my perceived eccentricities so I modified my behaviour accordingly in an attempt to appear normal. This galvanised my shame, it was making me a better person yet there was so much more work to be done for I was not good enough and it truly believed it could make me a perfect example of a human being. Its control over me grew and grew, critiquing every move, word and thought I had until I could no longer do, say or think anything. My awkwardness was total. My behaviour erratic. I ran away from other people for fear that they would see how weird I was. Thus my shame became my greatest eccentricity.”
I wrote the words above a couple of years ago. The context – why I wrote them, what prompted the words, what I wrote them for, etc, – does not really matter. There is a long story behind those words which led up to them being expressed in word form. There is a story about why they were expressed when they were expressed. There is a story which came afterwards. And there is a story now. Are they the same story being told over and over again, or are they different stories using the same words.
What those words mean to me now, did they mean that to me when I wrote them.
What do they mean to you? Do they mean anything or nothing at all? If they having meaning for you… Would they have meant the same to you several years ago as they do now?
The stories we tell sometimes resonate with others. However what resonates is not always the story which we are telling as much as the story which is being lived, has been lived, by those who read or hear our story.
Others, when they hear our story, do not necessarily hear the story that we are telling.
Sometimes they hear the story which they are telling with our words – our words act as a mirror which reflects themselves back at them and that’s what they see. We’re an echo of their own voice.
Sometimes they hear what we are saying, but our words do not really tell our story and so what they hear is not what we think we are saying. Our words are an echo of a cry across a great expanse. A Chinese whisper. A ray of light hitting a prism. The story we are telling is not the story we are living, but we may be trapped in the mirror of our words – such as when we say we hate something, we believe we hate it, but we only hate it because it represents something which we desire but can’t have, we hate it for not being ours. But if we could have it, our story would change. Flip around. No longer be a reflection but that which is being reflected.
Sometimes our story is exactly the one we’re telling and the one being heard. However each individual story is a tapestry of other stories and they may or not not be exactly what they are.
Our stories can’t always be told in words.
Our stories are sometimes told in images, in gestures, in music, in a multitude of forms of expression, ones which spring from us and those which spring from others who become our voices when we can’t speak.
Our stories can’t always be told by any means.
Yet… they are still telling themselves to us, even if we can’t tell them to anyone else.
And what is the purpose of these stories, the ones told, the ones untold? Why do stories exist, within and without?
Are they an element, and elemental force, another mystery which is a part of the greater mystery of life, here, there, into infinity and beyond.
Or are they just what they are?
We all have those moments when we wish we hadn’t said, shared, told someone else, something, a story which perhaps revealed too much about ourselves, the selves we don’t want revealed yet do want to reveal… just not there, then, that way. We wish we had powers of delete in those moments of regret, to alter the past just a little bit, not enough to cause a space-time continuum rift or any other mess which would make our small mistake pale in comparison. Just get rid of that tiny blemish on our otherwise perfect record… but if we can clean up one thing by deleting a small something, well, that’s probably the beginning of a whole new story.
What would remain if all stories disappeared?