Monday, July 16, 2012

Everyone has a story

Did your mum tell you to never judge a book by it's cover?  To give everyone a chance?
I think in today's society, we're more accepting of others and pride ourselves on this.  But do you think there is a latent kind of exclusion, where perhaps you gravitate to the people who look most interesting or more like you and the kind of person you are, than others.  So in other words, you're still making a choice on who you want to talk to based on ...well...the cover?
And I'm not saying this is right or wrong, I'm just saying. And reflecting....

I've just been to a couple of conferences recently, and I've already regaled you of how I'm such a namby-pamby-woose-bag in social settings when I feel intimidated or am out of my comfort zone.  In the more recent conference I was playing handbag on the Husbands conference and met a stack of lovely peeps, whose lives reflected mine - kids, hubby, happy life, dreams ...and like a moth to a lamp, I connected with these people and stuck to them like glue.

But the Husband also happens to be one of the Big Cheeses so I needed to chat with many, not a few.  And that's when it happened.

Sitting for breakfast one morning with an older couple, we were having the perfunctory chitchat that you tend too over a plate of melon, pineapple and dry toast that's gone through those rotary toasting machines. They were keen to connect.  The Husband and I were flat after the cocktail "roadies" we'd had the night before.  But polite.  I asked if they had a child other than "Sandra" who they'd mentioned.  They looked at each other for a long moment.
And then he started to tell their story.
And as they shared their deeply personal and sad story, I listened hard while mentally slapping myself over the wrists.
I hadn't judged this couple by their cover, I just hadn't given them a chance. Or been bothered to.

Shallow, lazy, safe...there you go, a few adjectives you may want to apply to me.

And the same thing happened only a week earlier.  I met someone with a story.  And I only found out the story afterwards.  After the casual chit chat, and general niceties.  And lets not kid ourselves that after a few minutes someone is going to tell there deepest darkest experiences.  I won't. But knowing there is someone "open" to hearing it, is a powerful and intimate connector.

My lovely and very clever friend Sarah from That Space In Between writes beautifully about loss, and those left behind and the complexity of emotions of living a normal life amongst society, while carrying a trauma around like an ugly handbag.

How many people do you brush up against briefly in life, half listen to, or ignore, who has a story.  A story they want to share or not.  Do we just need to let down our personal safety bars a little, to open ourselves up to hear a story if there is one to be told.

Because life isn't just about kids, marriage, life and dreams, and we shouldn't pretend it is.

Everyone has a story.


  1. you know...the best thing about people like you is that even when the stories get uncomfortable you stick with people, you ride it out and you look for the things that tie us together (even if its only that hideous toaster at brekkie buffets...Ive never understood them??) I love that just under everyones 'sameness' we all have a powerful, confronting, rich story just ready to be told x

  2. Oh wow - powerful message! Love this post. I do try to remember this, especially s similar message - that at any given time I have no real idea of what's going on in someone's life or through their head. It helps me to not judge others. Oh and I don't think you're lazy or shallow, just human xx