I always think of ourselves as storytellers whose biology is part narrative, part emergent experience. In other words unlike literature, our lives are a story that we can transform, because maturity allows us to see a greater part of our own story. If it had not been for Lynne D. Johnson I would have remained offline for the remainder of the year, but with the care and enthusiasm she showed me off line, this served to revive an aspect of my own personal history. What is history but the physical container of memory – it is the marker either we or someone else puts down to either preserve memory or to serve memory in a new way. History creation isn’t about creating history, it is simply the management, utilization and application of our own living memory.
What I have noticed isn’t that technology preserves history but it eliminates it in the process of upgrading. One of my developed habits to preserve history is to use a database to keep a track of my online contributions. That does not mean that a new operating system comes along that the relational database I use will be transportable or flow into a new system – and so today, this is why history isn’t simply about going backwards but about forward thinking. If one blithely disregards that the medium we use to record often changes markedly with technology or a new platform, then we are left wondering about things in terms of prior effort rather than the totality of history creation.
The problem with history creation is when we stick it through the lens of legacy. What others choose to keep or remember of us is never in our control. Some of history’s most famous people had no idea that what the eventual impact of what they were working on. William Shakespeare’s work has at points of history nearly disappeared before someone took it upon themselves to revive Shakespeare back into a wider social context. Thomas Paine died in a paupers grave probably thinking the world had forgotten him, but his papers on such things as “Common Sense” are widely available to those who appreciate the human condition. Yet people like Shakespeare and Paine did not work to create a legacy, they simply got involved in their work and their history creation was a normal natural flow of their existence and relationship to their particular lives.
About 90% of whatever I have explored online under the mark of “Mark Zorro” is no longer online but that is neither here or there, just because we have the capacity to extend our memory does not mean we should live our lives in the past. The benefit of searchable memory is to aid us in the present moment – to be alive to what is and not what was. When the time machine allows me, I can quickly go back to a prior time, but this is only useful if it serves to mark one’s own learning or transform ones own thinking. The whole point of seeing an earlier self isn’t about the creation of narcissism but the complete opposite – an awakening through thoughtful insight and not more narcosis.
I remember someone asking a question once Why is Zorro the main commentator on these questions? because it is one that threw me aback, for I could not figure out why anyone would question that, yet in my response – I can now see back in the Year 2000 what the underlying nature of my own priorities were – and now I can see a randomness in the response that I can learn from.
In other areas history becomes about reputation and here one has to look at the good and the bad as one whole. If one expects history to provide garlands and plaudits, then one should not cry if what actually receives is criticism or misinterpretation. Motivation should not come from one’s history because motivation is a now thing, not a thing of the past. If we learn to separate people from process, we have allowed our thinking to grow rather than be dragged by the hair of our own perceived reputation. Sometimes people are astute enough to recognize what it is you are doing
but such kinds of recognition should serve as a clue to how I should proceed in the future, and not simply become a parcel or baggage of the past. Learning to let go therefore is a key human skill that is the most precious part of our personal history creation. The idea of impermanence or that nothing lasts forever is one which is replaced by the idea of faith. That is why faith is important to me, not because it serves to maintain a tradition or a spiritual value but because it assists decision intelligence. We are therefore whatever we think we are and the product of what it is that we think and history is just a memory device in that regard, not the very stuff of life that we should live for.