I was watching the TV show Vikings a few weeks ago with my youngest son (he’s a big fan), and one scene caught my attention beyond enjoying the drama.
Real, or Myth?
If you don’t know Vikings, then it’s a show about, well… Vikings. So here we are in Denmark in 749 AD…
A couple come for an audience before Lagertha, the wife of the new Earl Ragnar (Ragnar is away pillaging Northumbria). The husband of the couple wants to inflict a punishment on his wife for being unfaithful. He tells a story of their marriage of fifteen years, trying and failing to have a child. One day, a young stranger, Rig, comes by, spends the weekend at their farm, and nine months later the baby is born.
Lagertha reacts in an unusual way. She questions the wife, and then gives a completely different perspective; telling him how lucky he is.
You should be rejoicing for your wife and son, not punishing them.
She tells the husband.
Don’t you know who Rig is? He’s the God Heimdallr. You should be thankful he chose your house, and blessed your family with a son.
“But that’s just a story!” cries the husband.
Our whole lives are stories,
retorts Lagertha, closing the exchange.
Our Whole Lives Are Stories
What if it were true that we all live inside a story? How would we know what is actually true, and what is just that partial view of life that we turn into the story of our current reality?
I think of it like looking at a sphere…
If we hold a globe, or any spherical object in front of us, we only see part of it. Turn it round and we get a different perspective. Turn it again and what we see changes again.
Just as we can never have a complete picture of that sphere, we can never have a complete picture of life.
And even with the part we do see, we only see it through the lens of the story we are telling ourselves. If we’re lucky enough to glimpse something from a higher perspective — if we can zoom out on the globe — then our reality changes, sometimes in an instant.
You Don’t Have to See the Full Picture
Because I know that this is how life works, I already know that I’m never seeing the full picture of any given situation.
Sure, I can choose to explore someone else’s reality, but that’s also made up. Like the Vikings scene, the husband and the lady Lagertha each saw life through the lens of their separate stories. There is no absolute truth.
Knowing Is Enough
Knowing that my reality is as partial as the next person’s seems to be enough to create an inner peace with how life works out. And knowing that, regardless of what I see in any moment, I can choose to see the greater good in the other person, their potential and their strength, means that I can respond with more kindness and grace (well, most of the time anyway; none of us is perfect!).
Try This One at Home
Think about this for a moment. What story are you seeing in your life that someone else, perhaps someone close to you at home or at work, might be seeing differently?
Does that have the potential to create a greater understanding and connection between you?
I’d love you to comment and let me know.
About the author
Cathy Presland is a leadership coach and strategist. She works with people who are making a positive impact with the work they do. Find out more at https://cathypresland.com