The Parallax, a story within a story within a story, tells many different things. Most importantly, it tells us how much people suffer unnecessarily, simply because they fail to grasp other perspectives than their own. Frank Beck misinterprets the situation surrounding his father’s death so that he will walk through life with the guilt of being responsible for it. Frank Beck also misinterprets the situation when his wife’s illness becomes apparent only to establish a marital disconnect that will last for decades. One could say that much sorrow comes from misinterpreting the expressions and reactions of others. Communication with others receives an additional meaning – it should serve as provider of multiple angles at the same setting. Someone else’s viewpoint can rectify much, just as can introspection (does it have to be written?). As a result we may leave old and obsolete positions. The story shows us that this is frequently prompted by events that overwhelm us with emotions. I’m convinced that events of much, much smaller scale than 9/11 can trigger us to discover the parallax!
Everyone knows the feeling but as adults, we have learned to hide our emotional scars, leaving jagged timelines in our lives, discarding moments we choose not to confront, leaving relationships that we’ve allowed to be damaged. The writers of ABC’s hit series, Lost, recognized the universality of this feeling as they layered metaphor upon metaphor, week after week. The series captured viewers’ shared emotions, defying the possibility of anyone being able to verbalize the show’s meaning. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to deconstruct a feeling. Can anyone really find words to describe fear, longing, regret, or remorse?
Dr. Katherine Stein, a character in The Parallax, recognizes this fact when she asks everyone in her workshop to think with the story, instead of about it. The real question, when examining our stories is not, “What’s this story about?” The real question is more difficult to put into words and can only be answered with an affective analysis, connecting feelings of chaos, confusion, and fear that characterize our lives as we search for restitution and forgiveness.
Singer Bryan Adams touches on this need in his hit song, Please Forgive Me. We spend our lives trying to get things right, but often, as a result of our imperfections, we fail. We make mistakes. We hurt and we are hurt. We yearn for restitution, wanting to reconnect but fear failure. We are left with inaction and ineffectiveness. We live in a world that has taught us to discard those things that are broken. Sadly we have forgotten how to fix things. But it’s possible to reclaim those discarded moments. Real forgiveness requires sincere reflection which can be achieved through self-awareness, self-direction, and self-control. Take your life back. Determine what’s important to you and make choices based on those values—you’ll be glad you did.
There have been times in my life that I have struggled with emotions that have threatened my relationships and diminished my personal effectiveness. My guess is that everyone has had similar experiences in their lives. Often, we may not even know what the source is to the anger, fear, confusion, and despair that reside beneath the surface of our consciousness. My new book, The Parallax, provides the secret to handling these difficult situations.