History is fiction. Especially personal history. It is as far from real as can possibly be. We can create it in the moment and can reconstruct it to suit our current purposes. We do this all the time.
The first time I took full and conscious advantage of this interesting opportunity was when I was 13. I was moving from Halifax to St. John’s in the middle of a school year. I swear there is nothing more traumatic than moving a 13 year old girl away from everyone and everything she knows. The connections she has worked so hard to establish are so tenuous, but omnipotent. They rule her world. To cut them all at once is a risky move. I fought as hard as I could and literally didn’t talk to my parents for weeks. However, during my silent and surly and snarly state, I came up with an idea. I realized that nobody at my new school knew anything about me. I was being given a clean slate. I could recreate myself and introduce this new group of unsuspecting preteens to the person I really wanted to be. In my case, that meant showing up as the hippest 13 year old girl they had ever met. It was a very calculated exercise. I kept the parts of my history that I loved and abandoned the ones that didn’t serve me. Those I replaced with something new and exciting. In particular, my paralytic shyness hit the chopping block. I consciously chose to leave that trait behind in Halifax. The girl who walked through the doors of Mount Pearl Central High School looked a lot like me, but she had this attitude that was new. She was confident and outgoing. She didn’t look scared. If anything, she looked a bit bored. Way cooler than everyone else (at least in her own mind). And that’s how that chapter of my life began.
This is on my mind because of something that happened yesterday. I learned something about someone that caught me off guard. It was something that had happened years before I knew him, but it was a part of his history that didn’t reconcile easily with the person I know today. It was destabilizing. But … this morning I’m asking myself why that hit me so hard. This person is one of my favourite people and I appreciate everything I know about him. So why … on some level … am I holding his past against him? Especially when he, like me, has been engaged in a process of conscious deconstruction and reconstruction ever since he has been on this planet. He has rewritten his history a thousand times. And … in the end … all I will ever know of his history are the stories he chooses to tell me. The stories he has chosen to carry forward into this place and time. The place and time of our meeting … our connection … our intersection. And that is all he will ever know of me.
I find the whole thing liberating and exciting. It proves that we have the opportunity each and every day to be the person we want to be. Our histories are there to serve us. They give us the experiences we need to author the next chapter (the next moment) of our living autobiographies. Pretty amazing.