Do you know Story People?
It’s a beautiful collection of child-like art with simple, witty, heart-wrenching quotes like this one:
I was never good at hide & seek because I’d always make enough noise so my friends would be sure to find me. I don’t have anyone to play those games with any more, but now & then I make enough noise just in case someone is still looking & hasn’t found me yet.
I was given the book years ago by a friend and devoured it during a time I needed something a little less cheese-tastic than “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Story People fit the bill. The quote above has always been one of my favorites.
I remember myself always being loud. I write it like that “remember myself” purposefully. (Don’t we all color our memories?) I watch young girls with their friends with one or more of them inevitably shouting out her words so as to draw attention to herself. I see friends or even strangers at bars or parties being audacious and looking around the room to see who is watching them. I used to be just that way.
It really doesn’t take any great psychological mind to figure out why people do this.
Everyone craves recognition. Not just being seen and heard but really being known. It is among the greatest gifts we can give another person – to know them. I think people seek that out in myriad ways but mine was usually to act out loud, to create my own spotlight, to shock and awe.
It strikes me that writing is a new extension of that behavior. Writing is nakedness. It is opening up one’s mind and soul for others to inspect. (You have been weighed. You have been measured. And you have been found wanting.)
There is both selflessness and greediness involved in revelation. I think each circumstance and each relationship require a slightly different balance of each for success. Inevitably we get it wrong sometimes. And the hope is usually that we learn to get better at what to show and when.
I married a man who knows me. He doesn’t just tolerate some parts and secretly wish there were less of those. He celebrates me for the whole of my being. He knows bits about me that I’ve never revealed to him. Insight is a rare and amazing gift possessed by few. They are the true people-persons. It is this insight that enables one to be compassionate in ways most of us will never be capable of.
I remember my younger self with compassion – all that showy, bravado. I’m happy she lived through it and came out the other side.
Compassion, though, is difficult to come by most days. An Aunt of mine signs her emails with a beautiful quote, “Be kinder than necessary. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle. ~Billie Holiday” It makes me pause every time I read it because of its simple wisdom – a reminder that you are not the protagonist in others’ lives. Everyone you meet is someone’s daughter or son, mother, father, brother, sister, friend…
I believe wholly that everyone is loved by someone. There must be some good in them. No matter what they show you.
Recently, a classmate of mine reached out to introduce himself. His approach was cautious and unconventional but his delivery was kind. According to his note, if he had never read my writing, he’d only have known that young, showy girl who was just a little louder than necessary in case someone was looking for her. He was glad to meet the rest of me, he wrote.