On slices of life

So I was catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years, and she kept referring to the things she remembered that I’d done, and it struck me that I’ve done a lot, although it never really seems like it. It seems like it’s been a really quiet life except for those parts with the intense drama in them.

But the way she was talking, it sounded like such an adventure. That time in Istanbul with the cops, and the winter in the lonely cabin in the North Woods, and that visit to Korea with my martial arts grandmaster.

It struck me that it’s all in how you tell the story, if you’re picking out the memorable moments or focusing on the long stretches in between, day after day of sitting in my chair and doing the work. The problem is if you focus on the one you don’t see the other. If you think all it was was work then you missed the part with the Greek sailors. But if you got the feeling it was all Greek sailors all the time, you’d be dead wrong.

I call this the Facebook Effect. Either you’re getting pictures of someone’s dinner, or their postcards from Nepal, and you think the one thing is the symbol of the whole thing. It’s hard to know another person’s life; hell, it’s hard to know your own. But you can remember that no matter what you’re looking at now, whether in your own life or someone else’s, whether it’s rice-and-beans or a photo safari in Kenya, you are only getting a small part of the truth.


My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

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