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I Can Love the Story of Me As Well As the Fact of Me

One of the joys of travel is to experience different cultures. While my first holiday without my laptop for 6 years was mainly focused on switching off and relaxing with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I would notice various things about life, thought, people and myself.

“Yes, you are fat,” the barman said to me. It was early evening in the sand-floored hotel bar. The sunlight was softened by its low angle in the sky along with the lumpy clouds that the Gulf of Thailand is prone to in early September.

A glass of watermelon juice that was in front of me on the wooden bar had yet to be touched, the paper straw had its wrapping in place at the top. An empty glass next to it had my sunscreen fingerprints on the outside and the gloopy remnants of my previous watermelon juice on the inside. A sultry breeze from the sea weaved in and brought the sound of the small waves lapping the beach with it. A thumb-tack lay pin-point up to my right. Kai, the barman looked at me as he wiped a cocktail glass with a pristine white cloth. His canvas shirt was traditional Thai green, and his name was carved into a thin wooden oval, pinned to the left side of his shirt.

“Yes, I am these days,” I said back to him. I smiled and looked down.

I was taken aback for a few moments at the barman’s candour. Even though there was context to his comment in the chat we were having, back home in the UK, it’s not the kind of thing one person would tend to say to another in ‘polite conversation’. Yet here, I heard it with the tone it was delivered. There was no judgement in it. None at all. It was said in a matter-of-fact way, in the same way he might have said “It’s Monday today”.

As I sat there for the next hour or so, alternating between pondering what I just noticed, looking out to sea and chatting with the barman, it occurred to me at a deeper level than I’d seen before how much meaning I put on things that have no meaning in themselves. My age, my height, my work, my income, my height, my weight, my past…. The list goes on. And on.

Here, there was nothing rude in what this man said to me. And I could have turned it into ‘something rude’ by the meaning I could make about it, in my head. I could have ‘taken’ offence. I then pondered how refreshing it was to hear a direct comment about a fact that had no ill feeling in it. I remembered some of the other conversations I’d had in the previous 4 days since I arrived in Thailand. Direct. Fresh. Non-judgmental. I could easily generalize this to being a cultural difference between people in South East Asia and people in the ‘West’. I don’t know if that’s true and that’s not the point anyway.

The point is that I was struck with the potential for me to live with more willingness to be how I am: no mask, no pretense, no show. Warts and all.

What also struck me was the possibility of me to take everything objectively about me, regardless of who said what to me, their intent and where they’re from.

I know that what anyone else thinks about me and says about me is their own opinion at that moment, nothing more. Ever. And an opinion is thought. Nothing more. Ever. Thought is fleeting, arbitrary, impersonal, and is energy in form for a certain period. Nothing more about me than this moment’s weather. Ever.

Yet, as a human, I’m taken in by a story I don’t know I’m creating in my head, 100% of the time. What I think other people think. What I think. What I think that means.

What has opened up for me since this conversation a few weeks ago and my ponderings since is that I have a story about everything, and especially about me. The story I had was not a pleasant one.

For decades, I carried on in spite of that story. It was my cross to bear in the life of being me. In the past 12 years since I began learning about how the human mind works, how my experience of life is created and a little into the truth of who I am, I experienced more peace of mind about being me than I thought possible. This helped me see that the story I have of me is thought in the moment, nothing more. So I could ignore it. And sometimes pretend it never came into my mind.

As I sit here, writing this, I can see another possibility: I could love the story of me, whatever the story is. Not deny it. Not hide from it. Not avoid looking at it and myself. Any story I have is an astonishing use of my imagination. Having an imagination is miraculous. Living as if my imagination is real is miraculous.

The story of me, whatever it is, is miraculous. The form of me is miraculous. What created the form of me is miraculous.

I wonder what seeing this may bring in the coming days, weeks, months and years. Meanwhile, I’ll sit on this insight and enjoy it.

With love and gratitude,



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