Recently I was reminded of the fact that each and every one of us has a unique story. For a lot of people, these stories are positive. For others, their stories are unfortunate or even sad. I have spent most of my life tiptoeing around the fact that every person has their own history and story to tell. It have always felt awkward listening to another person’s deepest thoughts and, on the most part, I have refused to let myself get close enough to another human being for them to trust me so completely that they want to tell me their story.
Perhaps it is a reflection of the fact that I am changing and am becoming more compassionate and empathetic towards others, that I can now sit here and listen to another’s story without feeling that I am intruding. Much of my life up until this point has focused on one story, mine. Being able to admit this now makes me think that perhaps my selfish years are drawing to a close. I now realise that I am not just the protagonist in my own story but I am also a bit player in a number of stories. A periphery character who at times plays the villain, the joker, the lover or the friend.
My part in most of these stories is fleeting. Blink or take your eyes off the stage for a second and you will miss me. I depart just as seamlessly as I breeze in. In other stories, my presence, while not always lasting forever, remains with the person for the rest of their days.
While listening to another person’s story, their dreams and hopes for the future, it is difficult to not form your own judgements of their past. The beautiful thing about taking the time to listen to another’s story without judging them is the understanding that without their past, they would not be the person who stands in front of you today. The person who wholeheartedly trusts you with what makes them most vulnerable.
The thought that the people around us don’t exist simply to act out their part in our own story is one that many of us don’t entertain. Taking the time to listen to someone else’s story can actually teach you a lot about yourself. Slow yourself down and listen to the narratives of those around you. It is how we build relationships and it is the only way we can truly experience the beauty within others.