How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.
“What did I know of life, I who had lived so carefully? Who had neither won nor lost, but just let life happen to him? Who had the usual ambitions and settled all too quickly for them not being realised? Who avoided being hurt and called it a capacity for survival?
Who paid his bills, stayed on good terms with everyone as far as possible, for whom ecstasy and despair soon became just words once read in novels? One whose self-rebukes never really inflicted pain?
Well, there was all this to reflect upon, while I endured a special kind of remorse: a hurt inflicted at long last on one who always thought he knew how to avoid being hurt – and inflicted for precisely that reason.”
– Julian Barnes
What we know of life is sometimes just history handed out to us by our ancestors and predecessors. The ancestors being our own perceptions of the past and predecessors, our responses to external circumstances.
But there is a saying that history is that certainty produced at the juncture where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.
We have a very shallow observation skill when it comes to how we look at life. Take death for instance, till someone close to us passes away, we don’t aee death as a part and parcel of life. Death is distant to us till the time it comes in proximity to your near and dear ones.
We see life in terms of how we get affected by it. Whether it’s miracles that chance upon us or tragedies that befall us, your experiences give a form to life. Experiences being subjective cannot generalise life as a blessing or a curse.
Did you know why remorse is a much worse feeling than shame or guilt ?
Barnes describes this feeling as too COMPLICATED, CURDLED & PRIMEVAL .
Nothing can be done about it. Period. Too much time has passed and sufficient damage has been done for any amends to be made. Life is like that sometimes when you look back and see that all that you did cannot be changed nor repaired. You just have to let it go.