A Greeting to Exhibit A Readers from Jerome Parent
This is my second official Exhibit A column even though I have published other works here previously. I’d like to use it to introduce myself beyond the brief bio that is on the site. And I’d like to articulate what I’d like to do for you, the reader. You are bombarded with media on a daily basis that is filled with lies, deceptions, and manipulations. And if all this wasn’t enough, our own perceptions deceive us even further according to the latest brain research. How does one find truth and guiding principles in the midst of all this chaos? If you are like most people, you seek happiness. And lots of people tell you how to be happy. Buy this thing, acquire that status, socialize in this group, and you will be happy. But when people can’t make themselves happy or can’t save themselves and the people around them from ultimate despair, it is clear that one-size-fits-all programs and planning don’t work. It’s amazing how many unhappy people want to tell you how to live your life.
So what does work? I can at least offer myself as Exhibit A that happiness and a fulfilling life are more or less possible in spite of obstacles. I have achieved many things in my life that many would say reflect happiness: a stable relationship (40 years and counting), a rewarding career, and grown children most parents would be proud of. These achievements aside, I am happy. And this happiness comes in spite of obstacles I had to overcome, such as a very dysfunctional family, PTSD, and TBI.
One thing I know about happiness is that it comes from the narrative of our life. The story we tell ourselves. But too often, we let others write that story for us. Unhappiness and discontent inevitably follow. The only person who can write the story of your life properly is you. In order to change our narrative to an authentic one, one we write ourselves, we must change our perspective, and thus our perceptions of our world. This is not a new idea. Plato explained it in “Allegory of the Cave” over 2,300 years ago. A small change in perception can mean a huge change in what we see. And changing how we see lets us write a new narrative. The Dalai Lama also explores this idea of the relationship between perception and a good life in his book The Art of Happiness (99¢ in the remainder bin . . . maybe you can buy happiness after all!).
What I will offer you is a different perspective. A new viewpoint that might jostle your perception a little. Something that will help you write your own story a little differently. Exhibit A will be some piece of reproducible evidence that might lead someone to a new viewpoint on issues both big and small. It is an honor that the staff at USRepresented have entrusted this space to me. I helped write the story of my life by reading the columns of many different writers such as Bob Greene and Mike Royko. Sometimes I agreed with them. Often I didn’t. But they made me think and got me to see things differently. I promise to do my best to do the same for you.