Sometimes our memories don’t accurately reflect the reality of our experiences. A good example of this in Despicable Lies is Darcy’s distorted recollection of her boarding school experiences. She hated being confined there. She felt like a prisoner, being controlled by what she perceived as arbitrary rules and regulations. Her recollections of those ears were painful and she rarely thought happily about anything that had occurred while she was a student at the Brandywine school. She hated the school and its faculty. When many years later, she returned to the school to confront and seek answers from the headmistress, she had an epiphany.
Darcy… “Darcy walked through the front parlor, where she and Pete had spent so much time watching movies together and occasionally dancing under the careful observation of the chaperones. Sweet memories…”
“Darcy walked out onto the back porch that overlooked a beautiful outdoor lawn, known as the green. The tennis courts were lined up on the right and the faculty cottages on the left. Stepping onto the green, with its lush grass carpet, she remembered studying there in the springtime in the shade of the huge magnolia trees and playing cards sitting picnic-style on blankets and sipping cold, fresh lemonade. She was struck with the realization that not everything about boarding school had been all bad. She did have some nice memories about Brandywine…etc.”
Much like Darcy, we all have memories of shrill words shouted during an argument or feelings of anger and despair after an emotional break up. When we take the time to look back, we often we see the circumstances in a different light. Taking a second look can be cathartic and sometimes bring a new awareness to a situation.
As a child I loved visiting my grandparent’s “farm” in Newark Delaware. My memories of the place were warm and welcoming. I used to love to swing in the hammock on the enormous back porch and to watch Fanny, our horse, grazing in the large pastures. My sister and I would collect eggs from the chickens and take turns drawing water from the well with a wooden bucket and a rope. I remembered vast acreage, numerous chicken coops in the large barn and expansive gardens where fresh corn, tomatoes and zucchini grew in abundance.
In actuality, when I returned back there twenty years later for a nostalgic visit, I found an old, weather-beaten house with a small barn to one side and about an acre back yard where Fanny used to graze. The large chicken coops of my memory were in fact, only one.
Over the years I had exaggerated the beauty and size of “the farm” in my mind. After taking a second look back at the beloved place that I had always believed was perfect and I remembered in such exacting detail, I realized it had little similarity to my inflated recollection.
This same concept is often true of our reflections of people. As Darcy learned by revisiting the sight of her childhood pain, and confronting the person she believed caused it, she gained insight into herself and objectivity about her experiences in boarding school. She realized she had badly misjudged the headmistress and misunderstood the event that had caused her so much angst. Hopefully we can all learn to take a reflective second look at the people, places and things that have bothered us and gain some personal insight into them.
“Reflective thinking turns experiences into insight.”
John C. Maxwell
Until my next inspiration…ciao