West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Telling Your Story

Every now and then I get e-mails from friends or family expressing desires to write something autobiographical - about life in general, paths taken, possible regrets, where they are in life and how they got there.  Of course, it's obvious, in my case, my blog helps serve that purpose and gives me an outlet.  I also have been journaling and writing out short autobiographical pieces since the early '90s.  I do it for some of the various reasons given, in addition to the sheer pleasure I get from it. 

Not long ago, I was asked by someone if they should put some things down "on paper" to counter some of the misconceptions people have about them, and to battle those voices out there that seem to be intent on creating what they think is a one-sided description of them.  This is how I replied: 
I certainly can leave writings behind that reveal some juicy bits (and will), but what folks will remember, and what I actually think of myself (while I'm living), will be based more on how full my life ends up being.  And although we can't control what others always think about us, it is important, in my mind, if we truly want to influence the perception others have of us while we're alive (and after we're gone), we must share our own narrative, and even fight to ensure that it gets out there.  This telling should work alongside the living bit.  See the movie 51 Birch Street for more perspective.
I personally try hard to be my own self-promoter and story teller, and therefore attempt to take responsibility for how people perceive me and my actions.  I would rather lead the charge than be solely at the mercy of it!  When it comes to our own stories, I think it's very okay to have evangelical zeal in sharing it at times, especially if the alternative is letting others define us in potentially derogatory and untrue ways.  On the other hand, if parts or lots of what folks say are really true, owning up to is also not so bad.  In fact, I think it's very cathartic to be brave enough to say, "Hey, I f'd up in this way."  In the end, if we want to influence perception, we have to tell folks (family, kids, friends, neighbors, lovers, etc.) what we're thinking, what's shaped our perspectives, why we're living the way we are, etc.. 
Come float the French Broad River with me, sipping beers along the way, and we can discuss this further. 

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