Derry is an adolescent boy who sees himself as a failure in life because of a huge scar on his face. He looks hideous to himself whenever he looks in a mirror. He thinks that he is unlovable. People stare at him because of the scar. He has heard people make remarks about the scar. “Only a mother can love such a face,” he heard a woman say once. But even his mother cannot apparently accept the scar; she kisses him on the side of his face which is normal. Derry hides himself from people because of that hideous scar.
NCERT English textbook, class 12
One day he meets an elderly man called Lamb. Mr Lamb tells him to rewrite his life story. You have everything that a normal person has: two legs, two hands, etc. Mr Lamb tells Derry. Just like any other normal person, you can be a success if you change your perspective: the way you view the scar. Accept the scar on your face and learn to ignore other people’s remarks about it. And go about doing your job. When you focus on accomplishments, other people will turn their attention from the scar to your accomplishments. Rewrite your story. Give a magical kiss to yourself.
Such kisses belong to fairy tales, Derry protests.
If you think the kiss will remove the scar from your cheek and make you a handsome prince, yes, the miracle will belong to a fairy tale. Mr Lamb clarifies. The kiss is a change of attitude. The scar will remain. But your attitude to it will change. Then your life will change. That’s the miracle.
Miracles are nothing but attitudinal changes.
When the cancer patient begins to view his illness as an opportunity to look at life from a different angle, a miracle takes place. Healing takes place. All healing is a miracle, a change of attitude or perspective. You may lose a leg in an accident and yet become a graceful dancer if you have the right attitude.
Derry’s story is borrowed from Susan Hill.
What Mr Lamb did was to employ the Narrative Therapy (NT), a recent concept in psychology. The motto of NT is: The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem. It seeks to empower the person to confront the problem by looking at it from a different angle, a different perspective.
The scar is not Derry’s real problem. What he thinks about how people view his scar is the real problem. Derry can rewrite his story if he wants. He can write a story in which people talk about things other than his scar. “Look at that boy, Derry, he is such a wonderful footballer.” Derry can write new dialogues in his story. And the new dialogues will materialise into reality. We are the story we tell ourselves.