words of '70's pop-star Cat Stevens ring often in my mind: "There
are no words I can use. Because the meanings still leave for you to choose,
and I couldn't stand to let them be abused by you." Communication
is at best a difficult endeavor, especially when we desire to express
the inexpressible; our thoughts, feelings, or spirit. Each word we choose
has been spoken and heard countless times before, a situation that locks
their meaning into prejudicial convention. How then may we escape this
judgment? How may we express the unconventional?
____ I was feeling particularly trapped in
a prison of words, longing for a way to make my meanings clear, when I
realized once again that the solution is always revealed within the problem.
To expect another to entirely understand what I wish to convey would be
asking them to give up their own perspective in favor of mine. This not
only approaches impossibility, it borders on the criminal. What theft
could be more intolerable than the theft of another's independence of
thought? This realization left me with two alternatives: to withhold my
ideas, or to place them in a context free from imposition and open to
the hearer's own perception. Obviously I chose the latter. The context?
_____Everyone understands stories, for they
exist on a multitude of levels. On the surface we will find the simple
unfolding of the story line, and this is enough for some people. Closer
attention might reveal occurrences or ideas from our own history, and
the gateway to true knowledge is, after all, experience. When one is reminded
of a past experience through the reading of a story, he meets himself
walking among the lines on the page. The greater one digs within a story,
the deeper one goes, and the deeper one goes, the closer he comes to truth.
For truth, after all, is not the verification of facts, but rather the
discovery of the everlasting.
Each of the allegorical tales that follow began with an idea I felt a
need to express or a situation I could not find the means to resolve.
Most were problems that plagued my ever-active mind. Once the ideas were
placed in the context of experience, through characters and circumstances,
the stories basically wrote themselves. It is my hope that as you read
them, you will indeed become closer to your own truth. In fact, I hope
that you find yourself not reading, but rather experiencing them.
_____I shall not consider sharing with you
the conflicting ideas that served as the catalyst for each allegory, nor
will I hint at the root of the symbols therein, for this would only bid
you a clouded picture of my own truth. Furthermore, I will not offer an
explanation of the ambiguous subtitle, as it is your journey to discover
your own “neglected realities.” As I can only attempt to speak
truthfully of my own, I dream of leading you to the discovery of your
analogies, symbols, or realities; indeed to your own everlasting truth.
What began as a quest to share my situation has therefore become a quest
to lead you to yours, for "the meanings still leave for you to choose."
My words may not be able to create the empathy I originally sought, but
if my dream has come true, I might just be lucky enough to meet you somewhere,
walking along the lines of the pages that follow.
© 1993 - Paul Stephens