Finding your story by Subhadra Jayaraman

When we start something – a new job, a trip, or even a day – it is like beginning a book. There is anticipation, some apprehension, some expectations, some baggage from previous stories. But every time we open a book, there are endless possibilities hidden in the volume. We sometimes start with a blank page, almost shivering with the anticipation that we will write an award-winning story.  Other times we start with a few pages already written, already charted out, already tainted. Our experiences are but chapters in the novel of our life. A romance here, an adventure there. A fall here, a success there. A laugh here, a sorrow there. All this forms the rich tapestry that is our own special story. Our own special experiences.

What’s so special about us though? Why do we think of ourselves as unique? We are but an infinitesimally tiny pinprick living on a speck of dust in the large scheme of things. There are possibly beings in this universe who can be and do things that are beyond our cognizance and outside of our realm of thought. Why is our story different from our neighbor’s? Why should we find our own story – isn’t it futile? If more than half of our book is the same as every other book written, is there even a purpose? The organic, gene-driven life on Earth has made us such that we are different even if we go through the same situations. That is the nuance of design. We share about 60% of our genes with a banana. That seems like a lot, but is it? We share 98.7% of our genes with bonobos and chimpanzees. Are we them though? That wee 1.3% makes all the difference between two entirely different species. Among humans themselves, the same conditions and situations produce entirely unrelated responses. You and I may eat the same food, walk the same distance, and work the same job, but are completely different shapes, sizes, and demeanors. The mathematically insignificant 0.0001% difference between you and me, is evidently substantial in phenotype.

There are thousands of books written about the Holocaust and World War II and the Third Reich – memoirs, historical fiction, biographies, autobiographies, novels, comics, and every other genre you can think of. Why? Isn’t one report of the incident enough to know what it was all about? The fact is 1.3 million people endured Auschwitz alone. Only 7000 were liberated in 1945. The chemicals were the same, the hatred was the same, the punishments were the same, the suffering was the same, but the stories were most certainly not. Each story was filled with a kind of powerful message of misery, survival, and redemption that could not be binned into a single heap of ‘survivors’. Each person found their own unique story.

We are the same. And we are exceptionally unique at being the same. We have our special quills, our special pages, our special typefaces. We write some sections with others, we write some hidden in the shadows, and we write some for those who can’t write. Sometimes we take a leaf out of another’s book and sometimes we simply turn the page. We make memories, we toast to the ones with us, we remember those who aren’t. We all find our stories. And we all live it in our own irreplaceable ways. 

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