The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

The Rest of the Story

When I was growing up there was a radio announcer named Paul Harvey who’d tell little tales about people who, at first, seemed pretty ordinary.  Then, after a commercial break, with a dramatic flourish Harvey would tell us “the rest of the story.”   The subject of his piece would turn out to be someone famous and the story would illustrate a surprising aspect of their life.  Even though Harvey was old enough to be my grandfather (and conservative enough to be, well… my grandfather), when he came on the radio I stopped whatever I was doing and listened.  I loved the surprising reveal in his tales, it was fun to learn about who these people were before they became well known.  

Harvey’s stories illustrated the fact that there’s always more to any person or situation than meets the eye.  The “rest of the story” took us beyond what we already knew, beyond the obvious.   This, to me, demonstrates a universal truth: there’s a “rest of the story” for every person or situation we encounter in our lives.  There’s always information that we don’t have when we interact with others. 

Last week in The Boss From Hell I wrote about a manager I’d worked for few years ago.  I hated that woman with gusto; it makes me cringe in shame when I think about it today.  Who was I to judge her?  I had no idea what was going on in her life, what demons were driving her behavior.  The only thing I really knew about her was that she didn’t behave as I wanted her to.

Everything that happens in our lives contains layers and what we see and interact with is often the most superficial layer.  When I eat at my favorite restaurant my perception of the restaurant is based on my experience in the dining room – how the wait staff behaves and the quality of the food.  But one layer down the kitchen staff is experiencing a totally different reality.

It’s when we recognize that we don’t know it all and start looking for the rest of the story that we become more generous with others, more compassionate.  We move away from judging and toward understanding.    When viewed through this lens, my former boss no longer looms as Satan incarnate, she just seems helpless and frustrated.

The truth is we actually know very little about what’s going on around us.  And for those of us who want certainty this lack of definition can be disconcerting.  Life feels simpler when we allow ourselves to substitute our assumptions for information.  However, once we expand our view of the world to include the unknown, life moves from black or white, good or bad, into a rainbow of possibilities.

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2 responses to “The Rest of the Story

  1. Helen Marsh January 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I remember Paul Harvey on the radio, too! He had such a compellingly interesting voice. Even as a kid, I loved how he would start a story, break away for commercial, and then reengage his listeners with his signature line, “And now the rest of the story….” You’re right, there was always a twist, a bit of irony or a surprise to the ending, which caused his listeners to rethink a premise. This ‘rethinking’ what we assume to be true worked on even his young listeners, like me at the time. Do you remember how he’d end his segments with “Good Day”? On some occasions, that phrase sounded to me more like “Could they?” which was also a suitable ending for many of Paul Harvey’s stories. Thanks for reminding me of him….and the lesson to be gained from Paul Harvey’s perspectives. Helen

    • Melinda January 31, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Helen, I love your translation of “Good Day” to “Could They?” And in Harvey’s stories they always could! What a great series that was, so insprational, wish there was something like that today.

      Nice to hear from you and thanks for your comments!

      Melinda

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