May 13, 2009

Who Do Stories Belong To?

After my last post and podcast, I received an email from my dad, which expressed his displeasure with my account of not only that night, but also with how I express my childhood at large. I think part of his complaint is with the fact that I am publicly discussing these very personal and tender life experiences.

I hope he doesn’t mind that I also posted my response, so that this mysterious public who may or may not being reading these words can get a more balanced picture of our relationship. I love my father and do not want to paint a lopsided image of him here on this blog or anywhere else.

I thank him for bringing this to my attention and forcing me to keep his feelings in mind. I hope this helps.

Dear Dad,

I can’t say that I didn’t expect your email. In the back of my mind, I knew it was coming and even while I was creating the piece I kept you in mind. Having said that I also tried to stay true to my vision. I am sorry that it made you feel sad, that was not my intention. You said something interesting in your email:
I listened to my tragic death story still there are some errors in that story, can you please not write any stories about my life again cause you don't know the details.
You asked me not to write stories about your life because I don’t know the details, and this really got me thinking. Do stories really belong to any one person, because I saw this as my story? The story of how I dealt with your near death experience and the time in my life where I was about to leave home. This was my story about how I dealt with my childhood and how I came or am coming to terms with my childhood experience.

So in reality this is my story and you are but one character in it. So ultimately the details I write about are true, at least for me, because they are the way I remember them. Reality is a tricky thing and when you cloak it in memory and perspective and it becomes even more complicated.

I am sorry if you feel uncomfortable with the way I remember that night, my childhood and the role you played in it. We have had this talk many times, and I have told you that I love you very much and do not blame you for anything. I have blamed you in the past, but I am over that now. I have grown. I write these stories and rehash experiences, because by reliving and giving them expression, I am learning to see the past more clearly.

I know you tried your best, and as a father myself, I know how difficult it can be. I appreciate the things you taught me, and as I have said many times you helped shape the person I am for better or for worse, so if you are proud of me, than you should be proud of yourself as well, because no matter how much I whine and complain and dredge up the past, obviously some things worked. I turned out okay. You played a big part in that.

You also asked:
I have a big question "How many people do you know that their lives are or were perfect through their lives?"
I don’t know anyone who has a perfect life and that is not what I am after. I share my stories because I appreciate the imperfection of our lives. It is through our pain and scars where we learn about who we are and learn to grow. I am sure you have many stories about your childhood to explore, and I am sure that your perceptive would differ from your fathers as well.

I know it must be difficult to have your son constantly say how terrible his childhood was, and in public no less. I would be crushed if Kaia did that to me, and for this I am truly sorry. My childhood was what it was and compared to many other people’s it was damn near perfect. I know you both loved me and it was that love that carried me through all the mistakes and hard times. Perhaps I spend too much time dwelling on the mistakes and hard times. I promise soon that I will share some stories from the good memories I have from my childhood and there will be many I promise.

I was a shy, lonely kid, and nothing you did or didn’t do would have changed that. For as long as I can remember, I have been an introspective person who dwells on pain and suffering. I don’t know why. I am learning to move away from that and free myself to be truly happy, and believe me I am.

You have seen me, you have seen my life, you have seen my art, and in all of those things you should see yourself reflected. I spent so much of my life drunk and trying to escape and erase my past, because hurt me. I am now trying to look it dead on and deal with it, so I can move on and not force Kaia to carry any of that baggage. I want to be free from the haunting memories and see that it really wasn’t that bad. My stories start from the viewpoint of a child, I want them to end with me as a man.

This is happening slowly. But children create fantastic images of the past that adults cling to, I am trying to free myself from that.

I am sorry for publicly airing our family laundry. I love you. I am proud of you. I thank you for being my father.

I hope this email helps. (ps there is a Pearl Jam song coming up that connects with a lot of what I respect about you and it is coming up soon. So be patient. )

1 comment:

  1. is a good question of who stories belong to. edward said, a writer you have read more than me, would be a good person to weigh in on this. as we both know, he looked critically at how european norms sought to apropiate eastern cultures, to subsome and inscript them according to the needs and ends of the european hegemony. utlimatley, storytelling is never value-nuetral.
    keep that in mind. and, ultimately, facts are meaningless...there's only the "emotional truth" of a story.
    if you dont have that, yo have nothing.