Our histories are what make us. They define us. Just as the rivers carve our canyons and winds shape mountains, the oceans we inhabit are fed by countless tributaries stretching backwards through time. If we were to find poison in the Gulf of Mexico (and certainly that’s not too hard) we would search back through the streams that led there and find from where it came. If we find that there is poison in the ocean of our now we have to ask where it came from. So we look back through the threads of time and find the cause – the disease, hate, or shame. Familial patterns or social prejudices. Ignoring our histories, glossing them over, trying to forget – it doesn’t help anything. Erasing the parts we don’t like doesn’t change them.
Highlighting the parts that support the person with the highlighter as the victor, maketh not a victor.
In fact, sometimes we have to highlight the parts that don’t get highlighted, the parts that get shuffled to the side because they are uncomfortable and the people who experienced the tragic brunt of those parts will never find comfort and their own beautiful moments within those stories – which, too, are also ours – will never be able to fully shine.
Closing one’s eyes – choosing to live in darkness – through the parts where the rivers that made one trampled the lives of others is not a path towards a brighter future because we’ll never learn to direct that river and our children and our children’s children will continue to make the same mistakes we did. And, sure, admitting one even made a mistake – rather than just doubling down – squeezing one’s eyes shut ever harder and muffling one’s ears – it takes some effort, some self-awareness and understanding – a deep grokking – of how all of those rivers that make this now – your rivers and my rivers – the rivers halfway across the world – vast rivers of human movements grinding down canyons and shaping mountains – and all of the little streams and tributaries – our neighbors and the proprietor of the little store on the corner – we are all of those rivers, their glorious performances – their moments of light – and their tragedies and travails.
Their histories are ours and our own rivers, from our first moments to our last – are intertwined forever. We must never forget that.