I have been telling a story for more than 20 years! It was my experience, so I was convinced I knew the facts. My daughters have this story memorized. Yet recently, I found out it wasn’t true, at least not completely accurate.
I describe how when I first married Emily, she checked an Italian grammar book out of the local public library. For several weeks, she studied it, comparing it to what she knew about English and Spanish. Several months later, we were walking in a grocery store. She overheard a cute older couple talking to each other in Italian. She greeted them with a big smile and stopped to talk while I continued to shop. After about ten minutes, I began to circle around and look for Emily. I found her exactly where I left her, chatting in Italian with this older couple.
When Emily approached me, I said, “I didn’t know you could speak Italian!” she responded, “I don’t speak Italian. You remember that book? I’m just practicing the little bit I knew.” My response: “You know enough to hold a ten-minute conversation!”
One day, I was sharing that experience in an article I was writing when Emily my editor said to me, “I don’t know where you got this, but it isn’t true! I took a whole year of Italian in college.” I thought to myself, “What? I didn’t know that! How could I know Emily for almost 29 years, almost 24 married and not know that?” I have told this story countless times, I’m sure in front of her, why hasn’t that come up?
After thinking about it, I realized that maybe she never heard the story because this is how I brag about her behind her back. Later, I started to think about this. The story I told was the truth, or at least my version. It was everything I experienced and knew, lacking one piece of important information: the year of Italian.
This experience taught me two lessons. First, before writing an experience, check with the other people that were there. They might have some key information you are missing. Second, everyone has a story and sees things from a limited point of view. It is truth from their perspective. In order to have a clearer picture, it is always good to consider as many different viewpoints as possible.