The world is full of mysterious people. And who hasn’t wanted to be the most interesting man in the room at one point or another? I know I have. You know the guy I’m talking about… He’s mysterious and guarded, yet casual and nonchalant. He’s friendly and approachable, yet cautious and calculated. And you can tell just by looking at his face that he has experienced the coolest shit ever. It’s the kind of guy that everyone stands around at parties hanging on his every word, and is the center of attention in a room full of people. He has the best analogies, the best expressions and the best jokes. And he has the best stories ever. Each one earned through some exciting adventure. Kurt Russell in Backdraft comes to mind. I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be the guy with all the cool stories…until I had them.
This person used to exist, at least in my mind he did. Once again, as a young boy who loved watching movies growing up, I created an image of this broken down man, misunderstood by everyone around him; people that didn’t ‘get’ him, people that didn’t understand him. Picture a secret spy/CIA agent/war hero/firefighter/Delta Force combination. These are some of the strongest individuals in the world. Nothing got to them! However, movie culture had once again provided me with an over- the-top, exaggerated and most importantly incorrect picture of these broken down heroes. And in return this image has helped create the stigma in our culture today – that tough guys don’t ask for help. They don’t need it. But it has been my personal observation AND experience, I find the individuals with the best stories are the ones that need help the most.
As I mentioned, that was the guy I always want to be; the guy with all the cool stories. So I ran head-first into every situation. I wanted to see it all and I wanted to experience it all. I wanted to gather all the material I could, knowing full-well this would make for epic stories! Some of the older guys would try to warn me but I didn’t listen. And as I got older (and hopefully wiser) I realized very quickly there was a cost to collecting these stories. And these stories were accumulative and just compounded one after another, over and over; piling up and weighing me down.
I realized that I was going to have to live this life. I wasn’t going to die a heroic death at a young age, to forever be remembered for my bravery. Nope. I was living this life, and along the way I managed to gather friends and start a family and surround myself with people I love. And I didn’t want to leave these people. And then I finally asked myself, “Who are all these stories for anyways?” I certainly didn’t want to share them with my kids. And not my family neither. And I didn’t want them anymore. So what now?
Once you have these stories they are yours for life. What I first considered a privilege was now a burden. So what do you do with all of them? Where do all these stories go; because you can’t un-see things, and you can’t erase a memory. Boy was I naïve. I spent the early years of my life wanting to be THAT guy, only to spend the later part trying NOT to be THAT guy. And this is why it is imperative to know how to manage your memories, stories and experiences. And if you find you are struggling with this, seek help.
I now have all these stories but I don’t like sharing them. I hate re-living them. I hate it when someone asks me “Ohhh you’re a firefighter! What’s the WORST call you’ve ever been to?!?! What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever seen?!?! Tell me ALL about it!?!?” No thank you. I’d rather not. You really don’t want to know.
There is nothing wrong with being ‘that guy’; the guy that has all the stories, the guy who sounds like he’s lived ten lifetimes. The problem comes when the weight of those stories from your past start breaking up the future you are so looking forward to. Stories are cool; I love to tell them, I love even more to hear a good one. But understand the stories you have are a powerful thing. If not handled correctly they will steal your livelihood right out from under you.
You (or your loved one) have made it through some crazy shit. That is why you are here reading this blog. That means you have something special. The world needs to know the tales you have lived though, they NEED to hear them; perhaps not to the degree in which you have experienced them, but enough so that they can help. This way you can get back to being the single most interesting person in the room.
I don’t want the stories any more
So be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
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