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Your opinion, although interesting, is not my reality

What is my reality if not just an intricate and colourful plot comprised of stories that I tell myself?

How does it relate to the reality of other people? Yours, for example?

What are memories, if not just narratives my mind chooses to conjure up?

I was listening to this one TED talk about happiness and stuff, and I learned about the two parts of the human self: the experiencing self and the narrating self. The experiencing self is the one that is always hooked to the present, anchored to the here & now, telling me what feels good and what stings like hell (mmm, these chewy cinnamon candies are awesome, btw). BUT THE NARRATING SELF! This is the part that creates the stories about what “really” happened, and directs our behaviour through interpretations, and analysis. Ever think about the fact that memories are really just stories that we tell ourselves? Okay, so we experience things first hand (i.e. shit happens) and then … the narrating self takes over, dips his quill into the ink of imagination and comes up with a suitable interpretation about what just happened.

If you really think about this stuff, your mind may melt   like swiss cheese … and in the end, you will realise that YOU are, in fact, just another story you tell yourself. Yeah, already thought way to hard about this. If the rest of this stuff is too cheesy, you’ll know why. 

And what about you?

You probably have a regular library of stories involving ME. All designed and dictated by your narrating self (at night, while you sleep the sleep of the innocent). And I have NO IDEA what kind of role I have in these stories. Am I the black-hearted villain plotting to poison you eggnog? Or a kind-hearted woman who smells like strawberries & makes tea that can heal anything? Or a light-footed jester without a cause? Most likely, I don’t occupy any of the major roles (remember, I used to play mushroom in school plays), but I have SOME kind of role. Could be the mushroom, again, for all I know 🙂

The point is, our stories may never match. The story that I have in my head IS NOT the story that’s in yours. Some of the facts my be related, like distant cousins, but the fact remains that our stories are not written by the same narrator. Therefore, I can never assume anything about you. And you, my dear reader, you can never assume anything about me.

*switching gears*

Have you ever been in a discussion where you just cannot get through to the other guy? For some reason, common ground is as elusive and perilous as the first sheet of ice on a lake? Every time you try to get onto common ground, you get dipped in ice water instead. You make a statement. The other guy makes the exact opposite statement. It’s a never-ending, futile debate.  This is probably because your stories of whatever topic you are addressing are so wildly different that you don’t even recognise yourself in the other person’s story.

“Hey, that’s not even remotely like me! I don’t have a HUMP! How could I have a HUMP! I do ZUMBA, for god’s sake!”.

Your opinion, although interesting, is not my reality. There is not reality. There are just stories. Millions of stories.

What you CAN do is LISTEN to the stories you hear. They are usually very, very enchanting. “Having big ears has never harmed anyone”, said some poster on Pinterest. It’s true.

Here’s something I have been trying to do: I try to consider all my stories as hypothetical narratives, my personal archive of tales (not necessarily of the “fairy” type, but possibly so, possibly so). They are mine and I cherish them. They are what makes me uniquely me.  What they do not define is REALITY. I have no claim on reality. I don’t presume that I am right (in the sense that my stories are universally acceptable .. ha, or even acceptable in the larger Tampere region). I might not even be in the ballpark.  It’s kind of like giving up trying to define reality.

Imagine …

Imagine if all people would give up trying to define reality. If we could listen to other people’s stories with an electric interest, without the whole “who is right” business.

There might be campfires and bottles passed around, hugs, laughs, general awe about the universe, and a consensus about how funny it is to be human, and how hard.

You’re right. Cheezy.

photo-7 20ecdb55a1822572dffc61042ccb52d2

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