What you see is not what you get (there’s a story in between)

Our mind is a master storyteller. Not just skilled, equipped and experienced but a prolific one too. Think about it, our mind weaves out and feeds us stories all the time about ourselves, other people and about the how the world is. We have build a library in our heads filled with thousands of intricate stories across all genres.

You might not completely agree with me about using the metaphor to a story or that all our models in our heads are stories. We might disagree but only as a matter of degree but not as a matter of principle. I for one, am completely clear about the fact that no one sees the world ‘as it is’. That’s an illusion – just another story we fill our head with. Everything we experience passes through the filter of our mind that is based upon our biases, our beliefs. In turn those biases and beliefs affect not only how we perceive a given situation but also how we attribute meaning to it. Two people can receive the same advice or experience the same life situation but see and interpret something completely different leading to two completely different stories in their heads.


A Story is a Story no matter who writes it or reads it

You might say, hang on, you mean to say different thoughts or different ideas, but isn’t ’stories’ a little bit far fetched? I’d say not really. Take two steps back. What is a story? A story can be fictional or an account of some event as witnessed by someone (could be yourself in the first person or heard someone else recall his or her experience). It doesn’t really make a difference because fact or fiction are both the same for our subconscious mind. Stop and recall for a moment a very emotionally-charged event in your life – perhaps the first kiss or a news, something very exciting, or whatever. Stop there with your mind for a minute. Does it elicit any response? Does it make you smile, get your heart racing or some other physical or emotional feeling? If it does then you can see that fact or fiction, live or recalled, doesn’t make a difference to your subconscious mind. Think about the physiological/emotional response you get while watching a movie. That is the power of a story.

Also a story is generally a set of events that unfold around a plot with some interaction between characters in the story. Now think about it for another minute. What are you and most people doing most of the time when they are at a meeting, on the bus, doing a chore, etc, etc? Yes, very probably inside their head recalling a past event or fantasising or making up an event that hasn’t happened and will probably never happen. A fiction of themselves as actors interacting with other actors saying things they wish they could have said or would like to say/do in an imagined situation and idealising or projecting a response from the other characters. If you are nodding your head to this, you know that you are playing script-writer and film director in your head a lot of the time. I say it once again – the mind is a master storyteller.

Another thing about stories is that they usually dramatise and idealise or romanticise those real world themes that are experienced by everyone such as falling in love, death, life passages, betrayal, justice, etc. There is also a beginning and an end which usually ends up with a morale (in the case of our minds – a new belief or reinforcing an old belief).

WTF do I do with them Mr. Librarian?

What do we do with all these stories? How do they affect our lives? Some of them feature prominently in our everyday living and affect us far beyond we ever suspect. They make up the script of our lives which in turn influence what we see, believe and how we feel about someone or something. As for what we do about them…I’m not really sure but if I had to create another story about it I would playfully think of myself being given the role of a librarian in some alternate reality and set to carry out the big task to categorise the stories in sections and shelves. OK let me have a go at it.


These are by far the most written and the most read. It’s a big section spreading across many shelves and aisles. The whole section would make up the ‘I’ or what we believe is the ‘I’. Our past, our childhood, our friends, our dreams, our adventures, our pain, our suffering, etc. We love to write stories about ourselves and we glow at any given opportunity to retell the tale to someone. This is how we end up identifying a lot with our life story; with our projected ‘I’.


Oh these are good ones. Well written, flawless and have passed the test of the keenest of critical eyes. These are those stories that are centrally important to the library. At the same time most of them are autobiographical and non-fictional too. We have edited and perfected these stories over and over again and have become an intricate part of our reality. You can say we have bought these stories without any second thoughts. These stories are the ones that shape our reality the most.


Yeah we all love a good fiction and just like the autobiography, this section is quite extensive and always expanding. We write several hundred pages a day of this. Like mentioned above, hypothesised, fantasised, imagined, projected, exaggerated scenarios in our heads of what if scenarios, possible pasts and grandiose future timelines. Better watch out when you walk through this aisle because it tends to suck you in for a very long time and next time you look at your watch you realise a few years have passed.


Oh this section, yes. Might not be so voluminous as the other two sections, but rich nonetheless. These stories are written through passion don’t forget. Love lost and found, entangled hearts and beautiful romanticisation of what would otherwise be trivial crap. Good stories. Some of them we open and re-read often so as to revive a little bit our ordinary world. Other stories we would like to never open up again. It’s a section we get quite picky in.

Cheap dollar-store paperbacks:

Don’t get me started on this. I honestly don’t know what to do with them at this stage. Wish they were biologically compatible and softer to the skin at least I would find a way to recycle. They burn too fast to be sustainable as heat generators. How about stack them somewhere then I’ll get back to them in a few years time?

Children’s Stories:

We all have them. Some colourful, some beautiful and some we wish they were never written. These are the stories we have written in the early years of our lives. A lot of them went on to influence other stories we have written later on or yet have to write. These are the smallest ones books, with big bubbly letters and lots of cute pictures but don’t be fooled. If I had to stop and spend some time here re-writing some of these books, many other books in the other aisles and shelves would magically rewrite themselves.


Mmhhh! Not what you’re thinking, I’m sorry. These have been censored because they are too sensitive to show the public in general. Some are censored because they clearly do not agree with many of the other stories and whether this is a good or a bad thing, we ultimately don’t know. Sometimes it happens that we come across one of these forgotten stories and what is bound to happen next is quite unpredictable. I’ve even heard urban legends that say some of these stories, once read, have made many of the other stories vanish. Quite mysterious…and yes, some of them if uncensored could fit into the mystery section.

Highly Toxic:

This is not a common library section, I know. I have only created it because I’m the darned librarian, remember? OK, so in here I would put, or rather lock, those stories that infect anyone who picks them up to read. I’m not going to even give a title as an example because they are so toxic. The real danger of this genre is that very often people do not realise or become conscious of how toxic these stories are and what a negative influence or how sabotaging they are to their lives or self-actualisation.

Happy reading!




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