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The Danger of a Single Story

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As I write this, I sit in Phuket, Thailand with the sole intention of getting bored. So bored that I am compelled to write my book. I have a cup of tea and they just brought a fresh plate of fruit. There is something about having tropical fruit while in the country…so fresh! As soon as this is posted, I will open up my book and start working away.

A thought came to me this morning. The thought of ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ by Cimamanda Ngozi Adichie that was kindly passed along to me by Colleen S. This TED talk has been sitting with me for a time and like a puzzle piece, I was holding on to it to the side and trying to see how it fit and today while strolling on the beach it came to me. I encourage you to find this talk. Adichie talks about how we have single stories about each other set by our perceptions and we hold those perceptions to be true and limits us to any possibilities and opportunities. It is a compelling TED talk.

At breakfast, I sat next to two Canadian gentlemen. They were older than me and one was from Calgary and the other from Saskatoon. I think we covered the west coast there. I told them that I just arrived yesterday and that I was looking to get bored on the beach and the resort. Immediately, they both laughed and said that I picked the wrong place to get bored. They had a single story about Phuket. They saw it as a tourist trap with some seedy parts and not the real Phuket or Thailand. Sure Phuket can be that, but I choose to not have a single story about Phuket, people or situations. I see things from a different perspective. As I strolled along the beach this morning, I saw many people, but no one bothered me. It was a casual stroll and no direction to it. Looking at the palm trees and listening to the birds, it brought back a flood of memories when I would visit Fiji where my family roots are from. There are people here to grab a bit of the Phuket action but equally, there are families and people like me who just want some peace and relaxation.

I think our single story emerges from media, friends and what we catch on-line. Without experiencing the place, we already have a vision of what it is going to be…this single story. When we go in with that vision, we only confirm what we hold to be true and ignore the aspects that do not fit that view. I think those two gentlemen this morning are right and wrong. Yes, Phuket can be all they think; however, I plan on discovering another Phuket that they might totally miss. Make anything yours and not clouded by others…don’t have ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ become you or you become a single story as well. Remember, you were born an original…don’t die a copy!


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