Stories are everywhere, even on the clothes we wear.
Cruising along the highway, for some inexplicable reason, I notice for the first time, these stories.
The canvas shoes from a country far away. I shudder recalling the moments after their purchase and their significant impact on my psyche for months to come. The distrust of strangers and the hypervigilance they engendered. It took some time for these uneasy feelings to settle and to believe in the general goodness of people around me. Oh the stories I told in my mind of what could have been.
Here is this pair of faded jeans frayed (intentionally 🙂 ) at the edges of its legs, bought once again in another part of the globe, in a busy market thronged with people. It was late and the price negotiation was making me more tired than I already was. I had spent a day exploring the city, and was wanting to get back to the hotel and rest. But I could not resist the invitation (or was it temptation?) to shop thus the price was this crowded place, sounds reverberating, the volume amplified by the starkness of the walls. The jeans were selected with less care than usual yet it is my favourite pair for now. It goes to show, if it’s meant to be… one need not try too hard. Sometimes it’s alright to trust and not overthink. Narratives I tell myself, when they suit.
My t-shirt has “Saturday” printed on its front. For the first time, I am wearing it on a Saturday. I remember where I was – in a boutique in another foreign country, and feeling contrary when I picked this shirt, having a thought that I would wear it on any other day but Saturday. I was curious as to how it would change my encounters with people. It did – I received looks of confusion, incredulity, disapproval… invited to random conversations about the shirt. But today, I am wearing a Saturday shirt on a Saturday – I wonder what stories will come out of it?
And down to the satchel I am carrying with me. I remember the conversation with its maker, a woman who handmade beautiful leather bags because of her creative longing. She came from a family of winemakers and was involved in the family business until she decided to step away, that was after marrying a man who took her place in the business. I could have spent much more time talking to her; what stories her life must have created.
For today, what I have on me came from different parts of the world. What stories to be told of this fact? That I have a full life, that I am a traveller, that I am an indulgent person, that I am too independent for my own good, that … I am making these up because I have little idea of what others in fact think of me.
I have plenty of stories of what I think others think of me… but they’re just my stories. And I had decided a while back not to trouble myself with these constructions of my mind.
I am also included in others’ stories which they create through their words and actions. They attempt to draw me into their narratives. I do the same to others, I have no doubt. This is our creative impulse. I cannot escape from them, other than being acutely aware of my role in their live play and making mindful decisions of how I choose to respond. I am learning not to react. I refuse to unwittingly play a part in someone else’s stories. This, a work in progress 🙂
For now, a story I choose to own having noticed my attire is that I am rich beyond measure, in the opportunities and choices I have, and the privilege and freedom to make them.
I am grateful.
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