Wednesday, August 27, 2014

History or Creative Writing?

Have you ever read an account of the past that sounded like someone “re-wrote history?” This discussion has come up more than once in our household, but then I live with a historian who is a scholar and expert on the United States Civil War, as well as Presidents Jefferson and Lincoln.

I suggested to him the other day that history was just creative writing. What I meant, whether we want to admit it or not, was that very little writing, is completely free of slant or bias. I expected an argument (friendly, of course!) as our family members often goad another on topics near and dear to our hearts. It keeps us on our toes.

To my surprise he quickly agreed without even pausing the DVR’d program we were watching. I must be losing my touch or six years together has caused us to become more similar than either of us wants to admit! Perhaps it has something to do with a recent discussion how the educational system of one particularly large (VERY large) southern state has an interesting take on the history of slavery in this country. But I digress …

No matter what we read in historical accounts, it behooves us to remember who is writing the story. If the writing is recent, is the information based on primary documents from the time period? Or, are the suppositions presented to us based on secondary and tertiary documents, or in some cases, merely hearsay?

How does this apply to our daily lives? Well, we all have history. In the telling of that history we attach biased or slanted meanings that may or may not provide a clear picture of what really happened. Did daddy “abandon” me, or did he just “leave?” Was I “denied” the right to a higher education, or at some point along the line did I just decide complaining was easier than just doing something about my situation?

There are two schools of thought on whether or not we can really “re-write” our personal history, but we can most definitely do something. What is that? We can re-frame our history to allow our past to be experiential and instructive, not tragic and destructive. Ask yourself, What story about my past have I been telling that no longer serves me?

An honest answer to that question just might open a door of opportunity for clarity and healing you may have been missing. We can continue to honor the past by learning from it, not by allowing it to control, mold and determine our present…or our future.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,



Angelica said...

So true - history is creative writing!! I was talking to my sister one day & was surprised at her memory of an experience I was sharing - it was so different than mine. That's when I really got it that we see everything through our own perspective!!

Dr Terry said...

That's true, Angelica. It seems that my sister, mom and I all have quite different memories of events while us kids were growing up!