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One of the ways humanity makes meaning is through stories and storytelling. Stories and storytelling is fundamental to the human experience. How we create our stories and corresponding narratives are the tools that we used to make sense of our past, present, and future. Our stories help forge our identities, and help us create purpose, fundamental to meaning making. The intricacies of our existence is inseparable from the stories that we tell, whether we call it history, current events, plans or simply "my experience". We create meaning through the activity of storytelling.
All the memories we have are stories, remembered from the perspective of today.
Our understanding of the past always depends on the present from which we look back.
The weight of today and its circumstances inevitably affects and distorts the evaluation we make of yesterday and its situations.
Our challenge is to find in the past the foundations of the present. It is this principle that has us believe that, in effect, the past determines the present. "I'm like this because of what happened to me, what I've been through". However, we need to remind ourselves that it is the reverse, the present determines the past.
The man who years ago destroyed his life and others by drinking his way out of a job, friends and marriage, comes to finally become sober. The narrative of the story transforms to from self-destruction, to triumph.
The circumstance from which we think about the past, today, has us introspectively remembering moments that, in other circumstances, would not have attracted our attention.
Similarly, the evaluation we make of many past events varies over time. What we believe, or believe that we believe, about the past, is the product of our internal dialogue and the character of our narrative. A dialogue that never ends, and is always formulated in new terms in the present moment. How we remember is a story.
To live well is to acknowledge the memories as stories, unrelated to the present moment. What happened, happened and has you in the present moment; what happens next is not determinant, it's for you to choose.