I feel bad when my mind distorts events from the past



The Context

What if fiction was not a reflection of reality, but a sifting of reality's essence? What if history itself was treated as something subjective? Just ask any writer you know. They'll tell you that part of their artistic liberty is remembering the past the way they need to. Because history can miss the mark. It can be more of point of view than an absolute measure.

The Tool

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FICTIONING — Treating memory as an art form for the purposes of nourishing yourself

Memory is skill and talent you’ve refined over time, and it’s about what you’re doing with the past and how you’re shaping it. Maybe the process of thinking about memory is more important than the memory itself. Because memory is subject to frailty. Many of your stories that turn out to be true come from innocent mistakes and misstatements. It's all part of the human desire to remember things in a way that's consistent with the how we wish to ideally see ourselves. Who doesn't fabricate events placing themselves in a more favorable light than they deserve? Who doesn't want to view their memory and their identity in the most positive way? We remember the past the way we need to.

My parents joke that when they read my books, certain stories from my childhood are inaccurate, distorted and exaggerated. And they're absolutely right. Of course the past is subjective. History is just the first draft. Every time we reread it, there's another revision. A few cartoonists come to mind regarding this topic. Who better to help people understand history than the ones who draw pictures for a living? Watterson, the groundbreaking comic creator who intentionally faded into obscurity after the nineties, said that history is the fiction that we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That's why events are always reinterpreted when values change, we need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices. Interesting point. Here's another take. Seth, the famous graphic novelist, writes that memory is highly unreliable. As a register, accuracy isn’t the point. It’s not whether the facts are right, it’s why they're important to you, and why you keep returning to them. Fiction is more than just a genre of creative writing, it's a tool for creativity management.

The Rest

And so, let us not be ashamed when our minds create and distort events from the past. Let us forgive ourselves for judging past events based on the way we think about ourselves now. Autobiographical memory, that vivid recollection of a past event that reflects what we value most about our life history, is a beautiful thing. It's a critical part of the retelling of our life story in the present. Will you allow events to morph over time until the rough edges are smoothed over and you emerge the hero?

The Benefits

Become the hero of your own story and feel proud of your history
View your life experience in a positive way that gives you positive energy today
Liberate yourself artistically to express whatever you feel, regardless of accuracy
Remember things in a life giving way that’s consistent with how you wish to define yourself in the present

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