My dad fell and has been in the hospital.

Actually he’s fallen several times over the last few weeks, but this big fall led to him being taken away in an ambulance.

In the emergency room the attending physician walked in and said to my dad, “You look much better in person than you do on paper.”

Which made me laugh because if you know my dad (read about him here), this is truth.

I’ve been thinking all week about what this means. We can put our lives on paper, medically, emotionally, experientially, but this can never encapsulate who we are.

These may be the stories of our lives, but they aren’t necessarily the truth of the moment.

They are important aspects that may support our becoming, but they don’t need to define who we become.

When we carry stories they can literally weigh us down; they can burden us with a narrative that keeps us from experiencing what’s happening now.

My dad always chooses to be well even though a lengthy medical file disagrees with him. He chooses to be a great patient even though he’s never liked hospitals. He chooses to be kind to all nurses and doctors because he lives in the understanding that we get what we give.

We can know our story without carrying the weight of our story.

We can respect where we came from without being at the mercy of our history.

We can always be better, this moment, in person, than we may appear on paper.

Cathy is author of the award-winning Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self-Aware Parenting and host of Zen Parenting Radio.