Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Our Stories

I have a favorite quote that has become a bit of a mantra for me. I hear it in my head when people tell me something about themselves. I hear it when I teach students who don't believe in their own abilities to learn and to become whatever they want to be. And I always hear it when my own mind betrays me and tries to tell me something that isn't true about me, which is usually an old echo of something someone else has said to me.

Here's the quote:

"It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story." 

~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

Powerful words. True words. Believe me, I should know. And I've seldom seen an example of this laid out as clearly as it is in the non-fiction book, Educated, by Tara Westover. It incredible story. She's an incredible person and an excellent writer.

One of the most difficult things to do in life is to rewrite your own story, the one that plays in your head. As children, we grow up believing what our parents tell us. We trust them. And, while that seems like the right thing to do,...what happens if you don't have good parents? Or, what if, your parents think what they're doing is the right thing (because, in their mind, it is), but their version of "normal"...isn't quite normal? When do children, surrounded by the beliefs of others, ever find their own way...and learn to trust their own story? Ask Tara Westover.

Educated is Westover's memoir about her life, growing up in a rural area of Idaho to parents who 'homeschooled' her. By Westover's accounts, "homeschooled" meant she didn't receive schooling at all. In fact, her father pulled their family so far off the grid, his last few children didn't have birth records. To this day, Westover doesn't really know when her actual birthday is. While this may seem normal for someone born a century ago, Tara is currently a woman in her late 20s/early 30s. 

While Tara grew up in a Mormon home, this story is not about religion. In fact, her parents were extremist in many different ways and they often criticized, what they considered, "mainstream" Mormons. Tara's parents kept their family isolated and used their children for labor. All the while, their father preached to them about the horrible ways of the world and how the government was out to get them and brainwash them. Tara's father saw himself as the protector of his family and used the Ruby Ridge tragedy to prove to his family what would happen if they didn't listen to him. You know, terrorism on a "home-sweet-home" scale.

I think everyone should read this book. I worry some people won't because they'll think it's a "teacher book" about education,...when it's really a book about how to survive childhood and discover who you really are.

And here's the best way to truly discover Tara Westover's story: First, read the book. Second, research the author's current life and watch a few interviews. Third, look up her family - her parents. What you discover on this journey will either blow your mind...or confirm what you've always known.

Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment