31 March 2008


We have all watched, listened to, or read people’s life stories. It seems to have become a national pastime, although storytelling is quintessentially human. Humans are Homo historicus.

Possibly in a time of post-modern disillusionment, the narrativization of our lives is a needed anodyne that assuages the feelings of floating placelessness, of rootlessness. But these are our life histories, as dwelled in by humans traversing the complexities of Planet Earth in this time-space of extreme mobility, whether of the body, spirit, or imagination. The pluriverse of modernities in which we are all embedded means there are a multiplicity of narratives to tell.

Lately, I have heard on National Public Radio marvelously revealing autobiographical anecdotes, so honestly, openly divulged that some are nearly painful to hear, others hilarious in their self-deprecation, but always understood as originating in the live heart of a wonderful, supremely unique person.

As an overall purpose, I would say that we should not desire to dwell in the past. And our life histories should not cause us to solely gaze backward. To paraphrase Soren Kierkegaard: An individual’s life can only be understood backward, but must be lived forward.

However, as we live our lives forward, we can profitably be informed by who we were, and to an extent, continue to be.

Try to connect the past to the present. This is how our life histories become indispensable to our living present: We can learn from them. We can become involved in an intensified project to learn from ourselves; we become autodidacts teaching ourselves about ourselves. This is what the stories of our days do: Their formulation helps us understand who we are. We become more fully human

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