Blank pages

March 12, 2014 § 7 Comments

This morning as I sat down to blog, I cursed the blank page. And as always, I cursed it publicly on Twitter. “Blank pages are the new people we meet,” replied my friend, Lionel. “Some we realise are works of art, some are cartoons, some are just wild scribbles.”

That made me smile. For a moment I pondered which of those I might be: a wild scribble, I suspect. But if new people are blank pages to us, it made me wonder how much of ourselves we write onto those pages as we begin the process of getting to know them.

Human relationships are so complex. There’s so much give and take, so much collaboration and co-operation needed to make them work – whether it’s just friendship or romance that defines the bond you share. So much promise. So much compromise. And the risk is always that you write too much onto the page that isn’t yours to fill.

We bring baggage to all relationships: our insecurities, our world-views, our past hurts and disappointments. And instead of allowing those new people – those gleaming blank pages – to write their own stories about us, we fill the pages with our own editing. We take a red pen to their words and try to shape the way they see us, both positively and negatively, instead of seeing them as a brand new start, a story waiting to be written. A story alive with hope and possibility.

It’s an easy trap to fall into in a world that revolves around the external, the superficial. We live in the age of branding and image, of the constant quest to control how others see and perceive us. And most of it is just a thin veneer over a shallow pool of nothingness. There’s just a cover page, carefully copywritten and edited and laid out, but when you turn the page, the book is empty.

We are the sum of our experiences, of the people who touch our lives. Some may just scribble or leave angry dark lines across the page, some may doodle a cartoon in the margin, some may splash colour on several pages in wild abandon. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be real.

And it will be yours, and yours alone.

 

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