It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something. The world is full of magic – if you can’t see it, then you are not looking hard enough. Do you ever wonder what makes the wind blow? I don’t mean on a scientific level. Ask anyone who knows me – I am rarely a factual person, except when it comes to matters that are important to me, like childhood cancer awareness and faith and just life in general. I accept most things as true, because to some people, they are true.
For a while now I have found myself shying away from the topic of theology and religion and even some social issues. I have had frustrating conversations before, when there is no winning on either side. These days, I tend to let these things go. I don’t commit to such conversations anymore. People believe what they believe, because they’ve been raised that way. Some people, like me, explore. There isn’t just one way to look at things, no matter how many people tell you there is. If that was true, then everyone would believe in the same thing and there would be no conflict stemming from religion in the world.
It’s impossible for people to to look at something and see the same thing. A child can draw or paint a picture and tell you an elaborate story about what you see as random squiggly lines and tangles of color on the page. People interpret art in different ways. Two people can read the same book and come away with a different message. The same is true for a book you read as a child. When you grow up and read it again, the story is different. Our ideas and perspectives change with age and experience.
When I was in second grade, my teacher read a story to my class that I instantly loved. It was a strange and sad story, about a young woman who always wore a ribbon around her neck, and the man who loved her kept asking her about it. She kept putting him off, until their wedding night. That is when she told her new husband that he could untie it. But when he did, her head fell off and she died.
I remembered that story a few years ago, and I found it again. It wasn’t as magical as I thought. It was disappointing. I remembered gorgeous, full-paged colored pictures, but what I got instead was black and white sketches in an I-Can-Read-Book. Seriously? Major disappointment. Was the book my second-grade teacher read to us just a figment of my imagination? The story itself was less poetic than I remembered it. It was simpler, somehow. I wanted it to be Romeo-and-Juliet-esque, and it was a little bit. No happy ending. The groom is left bereaved. He doesn’t even kill himself after his bride dies. He lives without her. Maybe someday, I will explore this in my own fiction. I’d like to take this story and make it my own. What happened to make the young woman decapitated like that, and how did she get from there to the ribbon? She must have had nanoseconds to get the ribbon and tie it around her wound. Did it happen to her as a child? Hmmm…
The words of that story never changed, but my memory of it did. Maybe it was the same book, but maybe not. I’m still hung up on that beautiful picture book I think I remember. But as we get older, our memories tend to change and even begin to lie to us. It was the same story, but it wasn’t what I remembered.