I read some fan fiction the other day. It was based off of Harry Potter, written as if Petunia had made different choices. Feel free to go read it here. What I liked the most was how it took Petunia's story, told it from her perspective and understanding, but helped her make better choices. Choices not steeped in fear and hatred, but love.
The truth of the matter is every story has different perspectives. There is the story from the main character's point of view, the side kicks, the villain's, and the bystanders. Of course, in each story we can all take on a variety of roles, but the fact remains, we have our perspective and they have theirs.
It's hard trying to see a story from another person's perspective. They have to be vulnerable enough to tell it, and we have to be honest enough to hear it. Not just wait until they stop talking in order to tell and defend our side, but to try to understand. Try to see. How different is their story from ours, when we thought we knew it all?
Not only that, but there is the minute perspective which can be compared to the big picture perspective. Sometimes what happens in our little bubble is affected by what is happening two blocks down, but we have to step back to see it clearly. We have to step out of our bubble to know.
I'm not always the best at seeing things from another person's perspective, especially when I'm smack in the middle of it. Oh, I can look at them and explain how they could have handled a situation better, but I can't always see myself quite as clearly. I know that's the truth of it, but it doesn't make it any easier. Sometimes I don't even realize I'm stuck in my own story.
But there comes a moment when it strikes me: this is not just about me. I have to realize I don't know it all, and there is much I have no clue about. When I am able to have those moments it doesn't necessarily change my story, but I gain an understanding I didn't have before.
Life is hard. Situations are hard. Choices are hard. Sometimes we don't do so well and the consequences are not ours alone to bear. The baggage we bring to a moment in time colors how we see things and what we do. We are not absolved from our actions and words, but understanding how someone got to that moment sometimes helps us forgive them for their actions and words.
It's not so much about excusing their behavior, as it is understanding.
And through understanding we can being to forgive.
And maybe we can even learn to love and forgive ourselves as well.
Petunia's story helped me sympathize with her situation, her loss. I understood the character a little differently. I don't know if it is how the original author meant for the story to be seen, but that perspective will now color how I see Petunia and her actions, even if she didn't make the loving choices in the original story. Even if she lived out of fear instead.
When we can understand one another a little better, and see things from each others perspective, then things change. Instead of being so sure we are right, we might make room to understand that there is more to the story than we know.
For if another person is involved with the story, there will always be more.