Life is like a Charizard Card // And Other Wanky Metaphors for Why Your Story Matters
I know this one marvellous woman who told me a few days ago “I don’t have any stories to tell”, which is a shockingly depressing statement and entirely inaccurate. She’s interesting — and I mean that for the legitimate use of the word — because she’s completely oblivious to how compelling she is, so there’s no pretentiousness about her when she shares. But the problem with being oblivious to her own interestingness is she doesn’t think she is, or at least she doesn’t believe she has anything to say or that anyone is listening. I think that’s a foil of most interesting people is because it’s their own experiences, it’s normalcy to them, they see only mediocrity, despite pleas to the contrary. It’s not until they witness the extraordinariness of their affect on people that they get a hint that they might have more to say then they thought. Every story has an audience, and even an audience of one is a captive audience.
We compare ourselves to others way too often, holding our own lives up to theirs like there’s rating attached to them. Like everyone’s living a life on a scale of one to ten when it’s more like varying shades of colour. It’s important to do things and try things, sure. But to say, I’ve never done this, this or this like that person has and therefore my life’s not interesting is to negate all the things you’ve done and that you’ve experienced that the other person in turn hasn’t.
How’s this for a metaphor. Back in primary school when Pokemon cards were all the rage, I had my own collection of cards which I traded a massive chunk of for a Charizard card — an extremely rare card. It was fucking rad and I was the only kid in school who had it and everyone loved to look at it, I was shit hot because of it. But then I realised I’d traded most of my cards to get it, I couldn’t play the actual game itself anymore and my massive collection of less rare, but more eclectic cards were gone, and while every other kid in school wanted what I had, I couldn’t help but look at them and want what they had. BOOM! Life lesson told using Pokemon card metaphor. Achievement unlocked.
I still have that Charizard card.
Life is a tradable commodity. In a lot of really dark ways when you think about it, but for the sake of keeping this upbeat I mean it in one way in particular, a concept I’m rather fond of. The idea of ‘a little for a lot’. Interactivity, socialising and relationships in general are most entirely about the idea of giving a little and receiving a lot.
Some two, maybe three years ago, I was on my way home from work at 2am or some such stupid hour, and was sitting on the train station. Alone, in the dark hours waiting for the last train before the hour long in-betweens (seriously, Sydney, why cut off trains in the AM? People work then too, get your shit together) and I noticed a homeless man sitting at the other end of the station a fair way away, scratching his neck and looking generally homeless. The guy notices me and sees me smoking (if you do the reverse hand cup over the cigarette and exhale downward out the side of your mouth you can usually get away with smoking on a mostly empty platform…tricks of the trade). He calls out “do you got a spare?” Now a smart person would ignore that or just call back “no”, but ladies and gents, you (mostly) know me by now. You’re either intelligent or smart, you can’t have both. I’m the guy who when on a job for Getaway to a remote island is told “this place has a VERY high level of dangerous crime” immediately separates from the crew and instead of spending the day enjoying the tropical beach went into the shanty town, met a disheveled looking guy cutting the heads off bats with a cleaver who barely spoke english and haggled with hand gestures and a few notes of money — the exchange rate of which I was not aware, and undoubtably got ripped off — a tour of the island on the back of a broken motorbike and wound up seeing all manner of ruins and landmarks my colleagues missed out on. To be fair, the fact that I had no idea how much money I actually handed over probably kept my neck from joining the bats or my rather attractive, if scruffy, ass from being sold into the sex trade.
As I said, intelligence vs smarts. I’m not, as it were, smart, and so sat with the homeless man who I gave a cigarette. He saw the small pocket sketchbook I had in my jacket and asked if he could draw something to say thanks and so for the next hour we chatted and he told me about his life that lead to homelessness (a really cool, if bittersweet tale, for another day) and sketched away and when he was done my train arrived. He thanked me again, handed back the book and left the station as I got on the train and got a look at what he drew; a simple tree with gnarled roots — the beginning of a fascination I’ve had with incorporating interwoven and gnarled trees into my drawings, as my friend Kat can attest to — that I found quite marvellous, if not for the fact that I rarely keep my own drawing, prefering to draw for others and so I’d never been on the receiving end.
Here we come back around, the point being that the fact that someone would not reject this mans request because of his social status is presumably a large thing to him but little more than a 50c loss to me and something as small as a little sketch of a tree which took little effort on his behalf meant a lot to me; as, again, most know, I value stories and experiences as metaphorically as important as the blood in my veins or air in my lungs, without those things I feel immeasurably small. A little for a lot, and vice versa.
Stories and sharing life experience is that, and we’ve determined life isn’t a rating scale, so you can’t really put value on your own experience in the eyes of other. To yourself, sure, but you can never really tell when something you share could have a profound effect on someone else, or hell, even a dumb little story of yours might be fucking hilarious or interesting to someone else. The same brilliant person told me how much she admires the fact that I share my oh so very dramatic tales of childhood woe and life experiences — stories what are quite casual and throwaway to me — because it helps other, was the same one who told me she didn’t have any interesting stories to tell.
She has stories to tell, you have stories to tell, everyone has stories to tell…
…and every story has an audience.
(Except Big Bang Theory, that story doesn’t have an audience…seriously, fuck that show.)
While looking for the tree drawing I found a box of my old sketchbooks, so here’s a bunch of pictures of mah doodles…