Friday, February 13, 2009

as best as i can remember

rich mullins' "the world as best as i can remember it" albums, which i enjoyed, struck me as pretty odd when i first heard them. not just the title, but many of the songs. but i've found that as i've gotten older, i have more appreciation of the sentiments.

our understanding of our world and even of ourselves is embedded in a narrative of memory that is far from perfect, and highly interpretive. (surely anyone who's married can appreciate this.)

having kept a journal more or less consistently for the past 10 years, i've come to appreciate that my real-time documentation of events doesn't always look exactly like my recollections of my own life. the point at which certain ideas began to tumble around in my head, or when my fondness for a particular place began to wane, and all sorts of personal changes, didn't really happen when and how i remember them, exactly. when i go back and look at the record, they are out of sequence, or different in intensity, or actually happened at slightly different times. it's quite revealing, actually. what's more odd, you would expect that big life changing events would be more clearly remembered. they are in fact more clearly remembered, but apparently not any more accurately.

i think this is one of the reasons we need others to speak into our interpretations, and i think that's why most things that are worth writing about are occasioned by conversations with others. really we rarely come up with any good insight, even about ourselves, on our own. it's the interaction with friends and family that produces most of what is best in us.

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