I met the amazing, incomparable Wayson Choy last night at an event with the Toronto Library.
A gifted author and storyteller, Mr. Choy received the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian literature. He spoke about his life and career for an hour or so and I was rapt with attention the entire time, I laughed, I cried, I can't wait to read the book.
Mr. Choy spoke of finding out he was adopted at the age of 56, of winning the lottery will all the numbers in the 1980's, of being a banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside), of family and love and what is important.
At the end there was a question and answer session and someone asked about writing. I asked him how you get the courage and strength to relive the bad moments. My philosophy has always been that I lived them once, why would I want to go through it again. So when you're writing a memoir or a book based on personal experience, how do you go through it all again?
Mr. Choy said it all depends if you want to actually know yourself, if you want to learn the lesson. He told the story of a time he was teaching a writing class and a woman was having a hard time with her story. She had been abused by her uncle and was becoming mired in the details, the girl in her story was guilty and a victim and she didn't know how to proceed. He said she should use her creative side and write the story from her uncle's perspective. The woman said she couldn't do that, and he said if she did, the girl in the story would change from a guilty victim to an innocent. She could take back the power.
This was an eye-opening moment for me, a life changer. I believe no one is ever "evil" or "bad", that we all have our perspectives, that we are all a combination of our DNA and our upbringing. By going back to the times in our life when we were hurt, by taking the other person's perspective, we can reclaim whatever power they had over us. We can see that we were in the better place, that we were glad we were not them, we can start to forgive, and that's really the essence of taking control of your life, of turning from a constant victim to your true benevolent self.
Thank you Mr. Wayson Choy.