those who dare


The idea of history is a strange thing. On the surface, it seems like a heap of facts: this happened. That happened. I did this. He did that. But truly, history is not a recipe. It isn’t a math problem. It is almost a fluid thing – a truth, stark, meant to be covered with feelings. Emotions. A whole picture, a moment made real. Like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy opens the door to her house, only find everything is suddenly in color.

Each of us has, and writes, our own little histories. They sharpen into focus at some points. Other events and instances blur the lines. A sentence is simply not the whole story. A fact is nothing more than half a moment – a moment in shadow. A history – a life – without feelings is like a map with only the outline of a place. A story told without adjectives. It only portrays a fraction of the potential that is there.

While we, undoubtedly, craft our own stories, our voice is altered by those around us. Those people reading over our shoulders and writing in the margins. Those who dare to brave our scribbles, our bad spelling, our most precise description and our nonsense. And yes, all that is a metaphor for other things. Give it all the meaning you wish.

The past – the thing we wrote ten years past or a moment ago – changes as we change. The basic words remain intact, but the adjectives shift. The handing writing shifts: ink takes the place of pencil, from blue to red, from legible to illegible. We obscure deliberately on occasion. We switch languages. We write in small print, edging toward the impossible. Then there are the footnotes. The tiny clarifications. The way our hands shake.

Being in a relationship with someone is a lot like reading a story. The more you pay attention to the details, reading closely, the more you learn. Someone may say something simple, only to have it shift the landscape, or the tone. Every look, every touch, is a potential plot twist. Every confession is a reason to stay or go. You may hear something entirely different than what was meant. Your words may be skimmed. Your emphasis may be misunderstood. And yet, at the end of the paragraph or page, meaning is right there.

Our hearts are made of words – some ours and some belonging to others. Love is a thing of poetry – a heap of sentences that no two people understand the same. Everything we ever dare to write makes up our collected works. Our collected moments. Our history. It’s not something written by those who’ve won – but those who dared to live.


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