Who are you really?
What I mean is if you met yourself at seven, are you the same person? Some of us remember being seven, but I might have trouble even speaking to that little girl, attending a one room school in Portugal.
And some of the things she believed and did I know just ain’t so. We have some memories (some of them pleasant) in common, and I’d probably break the face of one or two of her enemies, just because they were smug and full of themselves and that annoys me.
Then how about 12? 14? 18?
Hell, my teen years are even more embarrassing than the kid ones. Or as Terry Pratchett put it “You have to crawl through a lot of twerpitude to be who you are.”
But heck, what about 30? Ah. My big L Libertarian years, when I was even active in the past. Things have… changed, let us say. Not much. I just learned the limits of the possible and the real world. And OMG, if I could go back and hit that kid over the head with what a cesspool traditional publishing is, was, and by design will always be. Could have saved her a ton of heartache. Particularly if I could tell her to write anyway and just keep it in the drawer till indie.
On the other hand I wouldn’t have been me. I’d have written FAR different things, would never learned how much I LOATHE writing “Literary”after “Literary” for four or five books, might never have fallen into the blogsphere as self-therapy and might never have met any of you.
If I live that long, particularly if I succeed at the stuff I’m trying to do now, I’m sure my seventy year old self will shake her head and think I was a crazy kid, trying very hard, but really didn’t have a clue. And I’m sure some of my core beliefs will be revised or reversed. Not the ones on the USA thing, likely, but a lot of feelings.
Butterflies are lucky. They leave their cocoon once.
It’s probably very scary. Think of it, even their living space isn’t the same. They go from crawling on things to flying. The poor dumb beasties probably have no idea what comes next. Of course, they’re not humans, but I always imagine them emerging and going “WTF are these things on me? Ahhhhh. When I flap them I get hurled around!”
We emerge from cocoons all the time. In fact, if we haven’t in a long time, we’re probably overdue. Thank heavens, it’s not normally as complete a transformation as for that poor larva/butterfly. It’s usually one area at a time, but–
We were watching a show the other day where a guy maintained he wasn’t a murderer because it had happened 14 years ago, and all his body had turned over at a micro level in that time.
To an extent, of course, yeah, physically it was true. But he had killed and remembered killing and as Agatha Christie insisted, it seems to get easier the second, third, fourth time around.
However, sometimes, particularly in a life in which one major process of acculturation and one major process of conforming took place, it’s hard to trace the continuity of personality through the years.
Sure, the basic impulses are the same. And I don’t think I’ve changed about my kids or my husband (except I swear I love them more every day) but everything else is subject to change, seemingly.
We roll through life as a changing continuum. Even appearance and food tastes change, and if you could meet yourself from a few years ago, chances are you would say “who is this person?”
Something that always bothered me about a final judgement was that. Am I to be judged on what I did at two? Three? But that wasn’t ME. Otoh it shaped who I am. And most traditions have either forgiveness or infinite mercy in the mix. (My only chance is TRULY infinite mercy.)
The one thing that came up yesterday, though, because we were discussing change and how people see it as an unalloyed good, as though change was never for the worse (see, Venezuela! Or for that matter, Iran. And I’m sure we all have seen that in individuals changing for the worse too.)
Even when it’s for the best, change hurts. We won’t discuss change forced from above and societies, because there is pain and death and all these eggs are broken and no one has ever made an omelet, so stop screaming “this time will be different.”
But even good change, like for instance the internet, which has made things so much better, is also upending commerce, disrupting our day to day life, upsetting our relationships and therefore “hurting”. The industrial revolution is the cause of our present prosperity, but it hurt too, by making people change how they lived.
People don’t like to change how they live. No matter how innocuous.
On the other hand if you don’t change…
This being a group of writers who was discussing this, talk to turned to friends who got stuck at some place or another, either limiting their success, or limiting it so hard they got discouraged and stopped writing/dropped out.
I’m not sure I’m not one of those friends, right now, where I stand. I just stopped at a “higher” point than others.
Partly because I’ve been sick and I’m now recovering, I’m aware of short cuts that have become habitual to avoid expending energy, and to avoid trying something that scares me, and… Those don’t help my writing. So there’s going to be pain in the future, as I chew through the restraints of the cocoon and see if I can emerge.
Then there’s indie o’clock. I’ve been aware for… 5 years? that not only are people doing much better in indie, the only thing keeping me from doing it, is a mind tooled to traditional. (Well, that and illness and recovery.) In other words, the cocoon, that has been familiar.
Well, you know and I know what happens to butterflies — or moths! — that never emerge. They die.
The last year has felt like a series of kicks to the fundament, the sort of thing that also propelled me into coming out of the political closet. Like someone or something has been cornering me, blocking all my avenues of escape, forcing me to do what scares me and will hurt. Forcing me to retool my mind, my affections (no, not the guys or Dan. Or even the cats) my loyalties, my … cocoon. Pushing me to grow and change in ways that are going to hurt if for no other reason because they’re new and I don’t know how.
Also, you know, some butterflies emerge damaged. Or emerge just to be gobbled up by the early bird.
Fortunately I think I’m a moth. Watch out for that owl!
All the same there is no other choice. Well, there is death, but you know, that’s something I plan to avoid as long as possible, even if only metaphorical.
So I’m gnawing my way out of the cocoon. In a few years, we’ll see if I’m a butterfly or a moth, or a very brief flash a bird ate.
The only thing I I know is that in five years, I will probably be so different I won’t recognize me now.
Look, there are these things on my shoulders. And here comes the wind.