Clear as Mud but Twice as Satisfying

Look around you

The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened – SAKI

When I was younger I dreamed of being many things and not once did I want to be a writer, as I do now. At seven I wrote stories about magical dolls based on my Tiny Tears and ‘April Love’. I wrote about talking bluebells and I even penned a LOT of poems which I haven’t done in years (unless you count the rap song my boyfriend and I wrote together, 2 lines each at a time, as a series of playful text messages recently). I even won a local council writing competition at seven; the pinnacle of my career thus far.

Although my childhood aspirations never came to pass, it’s only because I didn’t want them enough. In fact I never even tried – ballerina, tv actress, hairdresser, air hostess, artist, model, psychologist and more; quite the array. Instead I got an Economics degree and NOT ONCE did I aspire to be an Economist or Mathematician, despite studying those subjects at great length!

So I believe my aspirations are waiting in the wings now that my ‘second life‘ as Barbara Sher puts it, is here. There will be an empty nest someday soon, I am older and wiser, still full of energy and my focus is to a large degree on me now; not on building home and family. This second life is our gift to do with as we please and I am grateful to Barbara for writing a great book on this subject. It’s only too late if you don’t start now.

Anyway I digress. I really picked this quote because I have been thinking a lot recently about how we clean up our reminiscences; or our stories. I have this unfortunate need to tell everyone my life story and also to ‘talk in detail’ when I am not aware of myself, not present. I do waffle, as you would know if you follow my blog! When I am ‘present and aware of myself’, I can summarise, just a little. In order to relay as much information as possible in the shortest time we try to capture the essence of our stories. We miss out details and clean the stories up. Quite often if we are presented with any written evidence of our past such as diaries, we realise that we have changed the story as well as forgotten large chunks, perhaps subconsciously. You only have to hear 5 eye witness versions of the same event to know that they can’t all be right and yet each witness genuinely believes they are recounting what happened.

So we can give ourselves the benefit of the doubt in many cases, due to an unpredictable memory, and in other cases we have to forgive ourselves for rearranging the story to protect our egos, our image of ourselves.

My story of my marriage and its eventual dissolution is quite different to my ex husband’s. The story of our current financial situations are so different that you would hardly know we were the same two people. Of course it’s how we see things.

So how do you want to see things? What image of yourself are you clinging to? Battler, Tragic, Lucky, Brave, Unlucky, Martyr? See how your stories are shaped by this.

Have you ever been at some course where you have to turn to the stranger next to you and tell them your life story in one minute only? Try it. What are the bones you pick out? Your age, marital status, kids, job, tragedies or triumphs that changed your life course? Now try it again but relate the essence of who you think you are inside, what your hobbies and aspirations are, your current joys and anxieties. Your face as you recount this second version will more likely be real, showing emotion, being present and aware. That’s how connection is really made; between real, vulnerable people.

I think I digress again but my point is to be aware of our selective memory and the fact that things aren’t always what they seem – for others or ourselves. Our stories are as clear as mud; as fake as the imperfect egoic mind they are created and rearranged in. For they are arranged to satisfy the ego, whether to say Look at Me or Poor Me or Lucky Me. Each has its purpose.

It’s only when we are here, now that everything is real and true. Look around you. Enjoy this moment and the clarity of what’s around you. You can’t doubt that lovely colour you see, or the friends near you or your home, or the sky or the music you hear. The smells are real, the tastes and the feelings. Clear as a bell and music to your soul, if only you realised it.



7 thoughts on “Clear as Mud but Twice as Satisfying

    • Hey Jasmine! I have just written a long comment on your post and am struggling with my ipad to save it as the Post comment button has disappeared. Argh! Now I will go and type it out again on my pc. Thanks for refollowing. Nice surprise. I assumed you hadn’t when I wrote the comment.
      I like your Hope is not a strategy! Oops i am guilty of that one for sure.

  1. You’ve given me a heck of a challenge, here Emma! I’m going to ask my hubby and daughter too what they’d say to a stranger when they tell the story of their life in a few minutes. It will be interesting to identify what kind of story=teller we are! Thanks for another great mind-joggling post!

    • Thanks. I get so excited when I see you have commented. You are my teacher in a way 🙂 Good idea to ask our kids! I might film it also, for posterity, especially the second version.

  2. This was one of my favorites you have written. I feel as if you are inside of me thinking my thoughts! I know now why we became such fast friends. You are my parallel me! I talk in detail and as for my life story and the need to tell it, I am right there with ya! And I love to listen to other people’s stories and I know people think I ask too many questions. But I think that everyone I meet is like a character study for a future possiblility of someone in my book. Ya know the sarcastic remark… when someone asks too many questions? “Are you writing a book?” Well, as a matter of fact, yes I am! Lol.

    • Yay! I suspected the ‘parallel me’ thing! I see it too when I read your posts. I sure know the sarcastic remarks – I think I wrote a post about it. I have heard’you talk in detail’, ‘do you have an off button?’, ‘you should write a book’, ‘you should write a blog because you have so much stored information!’ – well I took my friend up on that last one and here I am!! Perhaps I will get to the book one day. I have outlines and ideas for at least two but I will hang with blogging for now.

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