“There’s tales I’ll tell and tales I won’t.”
– Lee Smith
Lee Smith, a local North Carolina author, visited our little mountain town a few months ago for a literary festival. Although I missed getting to see her and hear her speak, there were some bookmarks left behind in her wake. When I saw them at our local arts council, I immediately grabbed one and have been using it as my bookmark ever since. On it was the above quote – “There’s tales I’ll tell and tales I won’t.” There was just something about that simple little quote that spoke to me. I thought it was because I’m a writer myself and I understand the decision process that goes into what you’re going to put on paper and what you’re not. But lately I’ve been thinking it hit a little close to home for a different reason.
I too have tales I won’t tell.
Yes, even me. The girl who vomits her life out onto a blog or status message each chance she gets. Even a big mouth like me has untold tales.
You know how people portray themselves in the best light on social media? Ever find yourself looking at other people’s lives or relationships and comparing them to your own? Wondering why you don’t quite “stack up?”
Well, guess what? I’m one of those happy posters.
Guilty as charged.
But here is my confession: life isn’t always great.
I wouldn’t call myself a “liar” per se. The things I post are true. Good things do happen to me. They happen to all of us. I do have great kids and a marriage that has its great moments. And I have amazing friends. When good moments happen, I post them. I’m happy to share them because it makes me proud and I want to look back and remember this some day.
But sometimes there are things that happen in between those moments that just aren’t Facebook or Instagram worthy. You know?
Facebook is kind of our modern-day photo album. Think about it – if you go visit granny and look through her old albums, what are you going to see? You’re going to see the happy times. You’re going to see smiling faces looking at the camera. You’re going to see family with their arms around each other. You’re going to see happy wedding photos. You’re going to see laughing kids with ice cream and church Easter egg hunts.
Now, how do you think granny would feel if you said, “Hey – wait. Where’s the picture of that time you had me go outside and get a switch so you could beat my a**?” Or, “Hey, Granny, I’ve looked all through this thing and I can’t find a picture of the night Uncle Bob spent locked up in the local jail for that DUI…”
Um, yeah. That’s not gonna happen.
There are some memories that you just don’t want to preserve for posterity.
And is that granny’s fault? I mean, are we seriously going to fault granny for not snapping photos during those moments? Of course not. Granny wants to forget that blot in Uncle Bob’s life. She’s not going to brag about it. She’s not gonna frame it and set it on the mantle.
So many times, we fault people for “pretending” their life is great on social media. But that’s not fair. They’re not pretending. Those things are true.
At the moment.
I think if there’s any blame to be placed, it should be on the perceiver. That’s us. We’re the ones looking at that life and thinking it’s perfect. We’re the ones looking at their happy moments and comparing them to ours. We’re the ones thinking that only bad things happen to us and they never happen to those perfect lives we see on Facebook. But that’s not their fault.
I don’t know why I’m writing this. I guess I’m just going through a down time and I want to talk about it. But then again, I don’t really. I don’t want to take a picture of what’s wrong right now and put it on Facebook. I just don’t. And I’m not gonna. Uncle Bob’s night in jail is just gonna have to stay in the family this time, you know what I mean? But I also don’t want you to look at my happy pictures and think my life is perfect and yours should be too.
But those happy times? They’re real. I’m not pretending. Most people aren’t. We’re just choosing what we want to remember.
But this down time? I’m just hoping this one will fade into the recesses of my mind and never be brought up again.
Give each other a break, ok? Share in the happy times and be glad they exist for one another.
Okay, that’s all the rambling I have for today. This tale is as told as it’s gonna get.
“Sometimes you go through things that seem huge at the time, like a mysterious glowing cloud devouring your entire community. While they’re happening, they feel like the only thing that matters and you can hardly imagine that there’s a world out there that might have anything else going on. And then the glow cloud moves on. And you move on. And the event is behind you. And you may find, as time passes, that you remember it less and less. Or absolutely not at all…”
– Cecil Baldwin