A close friend of ours lost her husband several months ago and because of having family in town, we were unable to attend the memorial. She put together this amazing tribute that we just watched at her house this past week.
We were friends with her husband too and found out we knew very little about his past. He lived the life of ten men. I have never known any one person to accomplish and achieve so much in such a variety of ways.
So, here’s my question. How important is the past in really knowing another person? Does it even matter? For me I feel like I really didn’t know him. His wife found out stuff she didn’t know until close to the end. Most people would have flaunted these accomplishments. She did tell us that people tended not to believe him, so he kept it to himself.
Does knowing someone’s past change how you view a person? Should it?
The best example I can come up with from my life, because I have felt the effects of the disclosure, is that I was a cheerleader in Jr. high and high school. I can see the judgment floating across people’s faces and hear it in the voices. Stuck up bitch, they think. I can feel it. Truly, I wasn’t like that at all. I was independent in high school and had friend’s in many different groups: Intelligent, creative, stoners, jocks, and yes, even cheerleaders. Some of my friends really despised my other friends, but I never considered it to be my problem. Should that information change how you see me? Or should you be impressed because of it and see me differently?
What if someone did prison time and you found out?
I personally count a person’s behavior higher in my estimation than any other component, higher than words or their past or accomplishments. How do you show up now? Who are you now?
I’m not saying I wouldn’t personally be impacted by the more extreme past situations like violent crime and stuff like that, but in the “normal” realm of the past, I’m not sure it should matter that much. Having said that, I’m duly impressed by our friend’s life and his accomplishments. I doubt it would have changed anything, though, had I known his history when he was alive.
As my friends know, I love delving into what has made a person who they are by listening to their past, their choices, their opinions, their actions. My readers also know that I delve into my characters that way as well. What happened in their past that motivates their conflicts and gives them the drive to find solutions?
Where do you fall on this topic? Are we our past? Does someone’s past change your perception of him or her?