It’s true that my memory isn’t perfect and sometimes I exaggerate to amplify a point. But the story is mine, outlining a world I created in my imagination in response to the people, places, things and thoughts around me.
If you going to visit it, please remember that if you want to play a good character, you can’t be an ass and expect a starring role. I’ll try to minimize your story arc if you’re misbehaving but no promises in this regard can be made or kept.
I’ve used variations of the above for several years, as people struggled against my right to express the content of my life, even if I sometimes made errors in its telling.
When I started walking frequently, I downloaded an insane number of TED talks and similarly-structured audio files. I was walking near one of my favorite spots listening to my second TED talk of the day when Anne Lamott’s segment started.
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
This quote reverberated through my head. It conveyed almost exactly the sentiment I’d felt for years. It’s one thing to know something – and another when a bona fide voice of authority echoes your idea.
Now, I use Anne’s quote instead of my own original sentiment. Because I’m not the one who said these exact words, I can use them like a spear. Coming from someone who can be googled somehow grants the same idea some clout contrasted against my attempt.
So many people are reluctant to tell their stories. Some are worried they lack the ability to be honest and fair, while others are concerned that they lack the language skills to avoid being mocked. It’s a risk to tell a story, especially one which reveals a part of yourself to the world. It’s a risk not to, as well.
In my own world, I tend to be aware of not identifying everyone in my stories. It gives them the opportunity to continue on with their lives without my imperfect alterations. There are times, though, when I feel it necessary to describe people by name, relation or occupation. I hope it’s never out of malice but even I know that our minds behave in ways we don’t always recognize honestly.
I would hope that anyone reading this would welcome the chance to share their lives with those around them. Allowing people to experience our thoughts and lives is one of the only ways to experience a full life.
The stories are ours to share, for good, bad, or ugly.