"What we know of other people
Is only our memory of the moments
During which we knew them. And they have
Changed since then...
That at every meeting we are meeting a
--T.S. Eliot in "The Cocktail Party"
I was sitting in front of a new therapist some time ago. She was taking my family history.
"Tell me about your mother," she says.
I laugh and pause for a moment. "Which version shall I tell you about? Because really, I don't know who she is now, I only know the version of her I grew up with."
She asked me to tell her about that version and I did. And an odd thing happened. It felt strange to be telling her about someone who really didn't exist anymore. That version of my mother is no longer valid. All that remains are my memories and the story I've created around them. At the core, the only real thing about any of it is the raw emotions I feel. And those have nothing to do with her. They are what they are.
We all change over time. Our roles, our responses, our ideas. Each moment we are born anew. What is constant? Who are we really?
I intend to get to know my mother as she is now. We went shopping a few weeks ago and she expressed that she's finally finding her voice. Me too Mom, me too.
When I'm having a hard time seeing the essence of someone, I sometimes try to envision them as infants or young children. Or how I would see them if it were our last moment together on this planet, or if they'd already died. It tends to put things into perspective.
How different the world might be if we allowed ourselves to see each person, including ourselves, anew in every moment. To embrace the "stranger" that Eliot speaks of. If we could do that, perhaps we would see that there is more that connects us than divides us, that at our core, we all contain some goodness. And maybe just maybe we could be okay with who we really are.