Those of you who know Cape Town will have seen the really bent-over trees along De Waal Drive on the side of the mountain.

And you might have commented on those trees – “Gee, look at those trees – every single one is bent over.” But you wouldn’t have judged them. You wouldn’t have thought “Not very good trees those. Not what you’d expect of a tree !”

You would immediately have thought about the story.
You’d say “It must be impossible to grow straight when you’re in the path of the strong wind coming off the mountain all day.”

We would look for the story that caused the misshapenness. We’d know, instinctively, that no tree would grow in that way if the conditions were good. And we’d understand, without judging.

It’s peculiar that, when it comes to people, when we don’t know the story behind the story, we seem to ignore the fact that there is one, and just accept our first impressions as fact.

And we do the same to ourselves. We expect ourselves to live up to our stories despite the circumstances – the stories behind the story.