One of my favorite quotes is from "The Horse and His Boy," one of the lesser-known Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and goes as follows:
"Child," said the Lion, "I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told
any story but their own."
It is just one way of putting an expression that is generally held to be true- you really never know what anyone else is going through. Even for the people I interact with most closely- coworkers, family members and close friends, I still see such a limited piece of their lives and who they are and all the things that go into making them who they are.
The last two or three years have held, without a doubt, more unexpected challenges, heartaches, and, shall we say, opportunities to grow and streeeeeetch than I ever would have foreseen or have experiences before. Yet one thing that I've learned more and more, and forgotten, and learned again, is that being in the depths of sorrow or pain is not an excuse to not treat others kindly or to feel like you're getting the short end of the stick or anything of that nature. Because I know my own story- I know it really well and I analyze is and overanalyze it and try to change it and learn from it- but I don't know the stories of those around me. And the more I talk to the people around me and learn about their stories, the more amazed I am at how many people are living with huge challenges or getting hit by sudden misfortunes. And although I'm a lot better at philosophizing than I am at living my philosophies, I am discovering more and more that people really ought to be treated gently and kindly- and I really ought to pull myself out of my own problems and dilemmas more often and look at those around me. There are amazing, wonderful, heart-wrenching, inspiring, sobering stories being played out all around me, hidden within the minds and hearts of the people I speak to and pass on the street every day. And maybe if I spent more time searching out these stories and finding ways to ease the paths of those around me, my own troubles might diminish, doing both of us a favor.