(With this piece, I’m starting a series of guest blogs featuring other individuals’ extraordinary lives, stories and thoughts. Comments welcome.)
My mother found a small table in the street. Someone had discarded it and she carried it home. Her friend the furniture store owner refinished it for her. She carried an end table across the alley from a friend’s house. One of the tripod feet caught on the gate and broke off. My father, exasperated each time that she brought something home, felt the need to bring its mate home for her. Again, her friend the furniture store owner had it refinished for her. Her incomplete sets of china with their beautiful cup and saucer or delicate serving platter also have their own stories to tell.
When I took my friend Kathy on a tour of my new home, before these pieces were able to find a more fitting place, she was mesmerized by the provenance of my home furnishings. Somehow, their histories added to their decorative beauty and value.
As I pondered on the intrigue that these stories held for Kathy, I began to think about the private tales each person has to tell. We all know that person who seems to have it all – beauty, brains, career, money, respect. We think that he or she never “suffered” in order to attain success. How many times does a celebrity make a public outcry that people do not know what he went through to achieve success?
For that matter, how many times does each of us make the same outcry? We do not have to be a celebrity to have people in our lives who do not know – or, acknowledge – our histories. There is the friend who tells you that you are so lucky to live in that house. There is the employer who tells you that you have not suffered enough for your job.
In order to get them to “shut up” we feel pressured to reveal every setback which we faced. The response to this revelation? Varied yet mechanical. There is the “thank you for sharing” response; or, the “stop feeling sorry for yourself” response; or, the “I don’t believe you” response. We are neither sharing nor feeling sorry for ourselves. More importantly, we have failed to establish a rapport or any understanding.
Unlike a table that cannot reveal its stories one by one to the other tables, as humans with brains and souls, we should have the opportunity to reveal our stories to other people – slowly and comfortably. Then, we are truly sharing.
Each of us has wonderful stories to tell, stories which can be woven into an extraordinary autobiography. Just do not ask me to hand it to you in one encounter.
Written by Carolina L., pseudonym, an attorney in Denver, Colorado. Carolina is originally from The Bronx, New York which is fertile ground for many stories.