Revisioning is a process we can use to reflect back on events in our lives and see them through new eyes. Every experience has the potential to provide a lesson for growth. The realization may come days, weeks or years later and will usually align to a core belief or value you hold. Revisioning requires a great deal of humility as it normally applies to a painful memory or experience that we ultimately relive for many years. It has the ability to lighten the emotional load we all carry around. The following is one of my stories and how revisioning helped me find the Truth in this experience.
I was growing up in an era where mass marketing became prevalent and the Cold War was in full effect. We went from 3 channels of local TV to the MTV and cable generation. There was a lot of social pressure to wear the right jeans, have the right shoes, own a members only jacket (seriously). The increase in media exposure brought more light to the events of the world, nationalistic pride was at a fevered pitch with the Olympic boycotts, Rambo movies, Springsteins’ born in the USA and huge increases in our global military presence. Aside from fearing nuclear bombs and my parents getting divorced (they didn’t), I reflect back and recall that “the fear of fitting in” or conforming was a very powerful for me. I resented the fact that we didn’t have what others had and in retrospect, didn’t appreciate what we did have. I think I fantasized a bit about my family having real money and was even embarrassed and compensating in my mind about who we were financially. I recall one incident where reality came knocking.
Prior to my eighth grade year, my hometown had two middle schools and decided to close one and consolidate the student population. In my mind, this should have been the world’s greatest social experiment! Prior to this event, life was comfortable, I had my social circle, I was a big fish in little pond and now, they were going to make that pond bigger. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mindset of “connection” in those days, I was all about competition. Fast forward to basketball try-outs that year. There must have been 50-60 kids trying out. It was the first time in my life where failure was a profound reality. It was terrifying but, I had this crazy confidence fueled by some source of pride in who I was. After try-outs ended, I remember they posted a list of kids who made the cut outside the gym. I remember the crowd that was constantly gathered around the list, I could barely summon the courage to go look myself. Upon approaching the list, I remember someone saw me and told me I made the cut! I was so excited yet, still in disbelief. I had to see for myself. And when I did, there it was. My name. I did it.
But that’s not my story.
You see, I had made it through basketball try-outs with this old pair of Converse, a raggedy old pair of canvass Chuck Taylor’s. They were probably a year old, a half size to small, the soles had holes in them and one side was starting to separate from the shoe, the laces were dirty and busted. They were done and I needed new shoes. Having made the basketball team, I was sure I would be rewarded with the best basketball shoes known to man. Leather Adidas Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s. They cost $60 or $70 back in those days. I had slayed the dragon and now I was entitled to my chest of jewels.
I remember the conversation with my parents about needing new shoes and sensing their concern. There was some consternation about the money situation but I don’t think I gave much thought to it. I only remember my dad authorizing my mom to get me new shoes, a VICTORY! In my mind, It was a green light for those Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s !
The next day after school my mom took me out for shoes. As we drove into town, we went right past the sporting goods store that had my shoes? I didn’t say anything. I started to develop an uneasy feeling as we got closer to the newly anticipated destination. My heart sank as we pulled into the Kmart parking lot. I started thinking, maybe she needed to pick up something else before we went and got my shoes? Kmart doesn’t have the shoes I need? The car stopped and I must have been lost in thought, maybe I was trying to “will” us back to the sporting goods store when my mom asked if I was coming? The story gets kind of fuzzy from here and I remember broaching the conversation about my expectations. I knew the kinds of shoes Kmart had and in my own opinion (or anyone else’s that mattered), they were not basketball shoes. The conversation didn’t go well and It became clear in an instant that it was this or nothing. In spite of my lack of gratitude, I went in and proceeded to pick out the best pair of basketball shoes Kmart had. They were a pair of white Keds, a knock-off of the Chuck Taylors I put in the garbage can the previous day. They weren’t Adidas or Nike or anything anyone would recognize as anything other than Kmart shoes. I remember they were $11. I was so embarrassed. I spent the next several weeks cursing my mother (RIP) as I slid around on the court in my embarrassing Keds. I tried to plead my case to my dad and nearly got beaten for my indignity. Then went to my oldest brother who I thought would truly understand my dilemma. I figured I could recruit him to work on my parents? Another fail.
Up to this point in my life, I don’t think I had actually spent any of my own money on anything I deemed significant. My parents had provided it all. I knew, if I wanted better shoes I’d have to find another way. Turns out, a kid on our basketball team had an old pair of shoes (Leather Adidas Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s). Before I ever had the money, I asked him if he would be willing to sell them to me and if so, how much? He said yes and $10 or $15. I had defined my first financial objective in life and now I needed to figure out how to pay for them. I received a small weekly allowance for doing chores but rarely saved any of it. When I was a kid, money burned a hole in my pocket and I normally spent it as fast as I received it. We had a neighbor who owned an apple orchard and would pay .25 a bushel for good apples and .10 for cider apples. It was late fall and the only thing available that time of year were the cider apples. Over the next couple of weeks, I picked up enough bushels of apples to pay for the shoes.
I bought the shoes from my team mate and life was good except, I held some resentment towards my mother and blamed her for my embarrassment.
My mom died suddenly and very unexpectedly on July 27, 2013. I was 46 years old and hadn’t thought about those fucking shoes for over 30 years. I didn’t know why this came back to me but, it did and it tasted awful. At the time of her death, I was sleepwalking through life. I had a lot of addictive behaviors, had emotionally abandoned myself, was angry, I was in an unfulfilling marriage, had a very small social circle and wasn’t living an authentic life (more on that in another story). I carried around a great deal of guilt about how I treated my mother and It wasn’t until several years after her death that I experienced the breakthrough.
As part of my awakening, this story became so clear to me. Once I learned to reframe the victim mentality I had attached to this story, the truth became evident. First, this was my push into financial independence. I am so grateful that I learned this lesson then. I’m not rich but, I live a modest lifestyle with no debt and financial responsibility is a primary value for me. Second, I came to realize that both my parents and I did the best we could at the time. This made it easy to forgive them (mostly my mother) and also forgive myself for the guilt and shame associated with my behavior. Third, I showed great will, perseverance and self-integrity, all of which have been instrumental in getting me to this point in my life. Finally, I was able to examine how “spite” showed up in my life. Doing things out of spite can become a motivator but, it’s a stupid, selfish, ego driven behavior that no longer serves me. I considered acknowledging humility, courage and vulnerability in this story but, if you knew me for the past 50 years you’d know two of these three didn’t stick. They had to exist for me to ask my team mate for his old shoes but, these virtues aren’t the lesson I’m spotlighting here.
The funny thing about our stories is that they are ours and typically only ours. If my mom were alive today and I asked her about this incident, it’s likely she would have no recollection because this was not a significant point in her life or maybe she would have a different story based on her perspective and experience. For me, this breakthrough was an opportunity to lighten my emotional load (take one more thing out of the proverbial emotional baggage that I’d been carrying around). I got greater clarity about myself, found a new respect and understanding for my mother and have a greater appreciation for my core values.
Today, part of moving forward in my life includes the examination of old painful feelings. With this, I have the opportunity to understand how these feelings show up in my life, identify the source and deconstruct the memory. Through this process, I am inspired to revision the thoughts and feelings from a new perspective which often leads to key insights and my personal growth.
Do you have a process like this or your own story of revisioning? If so, hit me back. I’d love to hear how others view revisioning. Contact me if you’re interested in finding the truth or revisioning a past experience.