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.