Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hindsight is a Three-Act Play

I don't remember events, I remember stories.

I find that the past, as represented through my retellings, becomes increasingly altered over time. I have a strong sense of the narrative. I am a story-teller at heart and my world view 'digests' (for lack of a better term) life into narrative. Real life has no narrative structure. It is a random series of chaotic events stemming from billions of independent causes. Beginnings, middles and ends are all defined in hindsight and are relative to the person or persons experiencing them. There are no morals, few soliloquys, and far too little ironic resolution.

But that's not how I remember things.

Warped by my writing bug and a cavalcade of fiction, I don't remember disconnected events. I remember stories. The involved persons become the character cast. The events become the major plot points and challenges, and different events are emphasized or ignored to form the traditional western narrative skeleton: prologue - introduction - buildup - conflict - climax - resolution - afterward. Lessons to learn are introduced and literary themes expanded on.

And I do this without intending to.

I wonder, are there painters who see their own pasts in terms of a gallery of finished and unfinished paintings? Sculptors with memories in clay and marble? Do senators see their own childhood in terms of politics? Are programmers even today shuffling high school recollections into organized lines with hosts of if/then statements and commentary hidden by brackets?

Or do we all just turn our history into stories?

Whatever the answer, I intend to embrace this process. When I rewrite my teenage years it will be a truly epic tale. I strongly encourage the supporting cast to simply enjoy their new history, as it is going to be much more interesting the second time through.


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