Today’s Lesson: It’s tough to see I to I.
“…And that is why I am who I am.” Our friend finished sharing some very moving and important details about his childhood. It was the kind of story people write books about, that later become screenplays, and eventually turn into inspiring and uplifting academy award-winning movies.
I do not know many people who do not have amazing life stories that could become movies. In fact, just think about how often you hear the phrase, “My life could be a great movie…”. Everyone’s life could be a great movie, and I believe all those movies would be great. We all have struggles, challenges, trials and tribulation to overcome (often as children) because there is no manual for life. We each have to figure it out the hard way.
When we hear a close friend’s intimately protected back story, we are often surprised. Sometimes that friend is no longer who we thought they were, in the light of new details. It is like we don’t even know them.
Here is the real kicker, though. We don’t know ourselves, either.
When I look back at my life, I remember (and this is being very generous) maybe one-fourth of my own history–you know, the history that I lived.
I do not remember most of yesterday. I remember waking up, going to work, coming home, and going out to dinner but I do not remember every word of every conversation or every visual input that affected my attitude, or each billboard that subtly coerced me into trusting a brand name, or even every detail of my friend’s story. I remember the highlights but, as they say, the devil can be in the details. It is the minutiae and messy morass between the big plot turns that build character, that make me who I am.
In essence, I am missing most of who I am. Sometimes an old friend will share a story about me that I do not remember. I can not scroll back through my entire history. Truly, I only know the highlights–bits and pieces of stories I have heard and told over and over.
In other words, we are, at best, only the Cliffs Notes version of ourselves.
We should not fret, therefore, when we think we know someone because we remember a few major dots in their life but have forgotten most of the lines that connected them.
In the end, isn’t it better to be surprised once in a while… even when we surprise ourselves?