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February 24, 2012
Posted at 8:43 pm

It's All One Big Mirror Ball

Each of us has stories without end within us, whether true or imagined.

Fiction exists as infinite numbers of tales wandering the endless corridors of our imaginations, and there is no way to limit them unless we enter a vegetative state or die. I'm not even sure being comatose stops all stories; people reawakening from comas often report dreams and journeys experienced while away.

How about non-fiction? Even if we only tell stories containing true events that have actually happened, the possibilities are completely limitless. The examples I am thinking of at this moment, are parallel lines that happen simultaneously.

For instance, let's say we have a multi-faceted crystal ball in order to observe a subject. #1, In one panel, a 20 year old young person gets up in the morning, goes to class at college, studies, does their homework, goes to bed. #2, In a different segment, the same person gets up on the same day, lets their dog out for a walk, picks up the garbage the raccoons spread all over the yard, drives to school in a mechanically unsound car, has a fight with a classmate, skips dinner, and goes to bed. #3, In yet another window, the same person gets up on the VERY SAME DAY, calls the garage to make an appointment for the car for tomorrow, scratches the cat on their lap under the chin while reading email, spills coffee on their shirt and swears for a bit before putting on a new shirt, leaves the house and returns, has phone sex with their dating partner once in bed, and gets back up an hour later because they couldn't sleep.

Now, let the parallel lines share contact points, not unlike parallel universes in science fiction stories. Note that in every telling of the day there are common elements (leaving the house, returning to the house, going to bed). To complicate it further (are you shaking your head yet?), if 3 different people each viewed one window, and spoke about what they saw, every description would be tinted a different color by their own perception.

I've gone through so many changes in my life, and today I am not the same person I was yesterday, nor who I will be tomorrow. When I look back at what I have experienced, what I see varies over time, even if I am analyzing the exact same event. It means I can write story lines that sound inconsistent one from another, but that are in reality compatible, even when addressing the same time period.

We have so many wonderful stories by 'Nam vets on SOL. We hear the pain and terror in their stories, but we also hear the camaraderie and bravery. We note the homesickness and pining for the loved ones back home. We read about the conflict between pride for service to the country, dismay at being the target for anti-war protesters, and ambivalence about the goals of the government for being there at all. All of these things are true, separately, and combined. If a vet wrote a story about the same event twenty different times, spacing the writing five years apart, starting the first go while they were still in 'Nam, and stretching the remaining entries over the rest of their lives, every telling would portray a totally different vision and understanding of what they experienced.

This is how I've come to explain to myself how all of my 'true' stories have come to exist and complement each other. Not a one of the versions has everything, and I can't write enough versions to get it all in. I'm not bored yet, but the Timmy series and its viewpoint may well be the last go 'round of that era.