Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's Your Story?

Whenever I see my gregarious father-in-law, he greets me with, “What’s your story?” or the classic, “What’s your excuse?” He is of course implying that somewhere, somehow, me being me, I am causing trouble (probably starting with marrying his son 25 years ago). I think he would fall over if I replied, “What’s my story? Let me tell you the history of me!” More likely, given that we have a jib-jab teasing relationship, the response would be, “Please, I know enough.”
But, actually he doesn’t. And neither do I about him, or my own mother, or even my husband.

Everyone has a story. None of us can know the whole story of others, because we are not they.  Each one of us has a unique “history of self,” even those raised in the same household. Birth order, age difference, gender, personality--if you have a sibling, or are the parent to more than one child, then you know how these categories and their impact can differ dramatically from sibling to sibling.

It is so easy to make assumptions about another person, based on even a few exchanges of communication. But we really don’t know his story until we are told, and until we bother to truly listen.

The more experience I have in life (read: getting older!), the more I realize how my account of childhood in the Larson home may lack a certain historicity--authentic history--because it is my perception. I don’t have the whole truth, because I was not--nor can be--in everyone else’s heads to get their understanding or perspective.

So what’s the point of this post? To encourage us, myself included, that to understand one another, to know one another’s stories, we have to communicate and not make assumptions. Sometimes the other person won’t be ready to share; respect that. But, start somewhere. Just ask, “So, what’s your story?

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