Our desire to categorize things, and understand things, requires a degree of simplification. Reality is immense and a total understanding unknowable. People are immense and a total understanding unknowable.
So when we simplify people, we deny them their full complexity; the many shades, moods, perceptions and ideals bundled together to make their person. Simplification allows violence; it is not only demeaning but also other-ing. Us and them, real people and the simple-people.
Memories can also be simplified into ‘general feelings’ of the past. General sadness, general frustration. Break it apart – how, why, when? What really happened? Who was that historical figure really?
The truth is always too big to be grasped. Be satisfied with your handful, and accept complexity.
So, you think yourself a historian of your own soul, do you? Perchance we should test this hubris.
What is the past? It is that which has happened, things that were but are no more. Those things once were real in their time (it is easy to forget that history actually happened, but it did!) But now, those things that happened are gone. We can keep them alive, to a limited degree, in books and stories, art and memories. But the past is past.
What did you have for breakfast ten days ago? Five, three, one? It is difficult to remember even this, let alone the actual past. Our perception of past events is skewed by our finitude and fallibility. Further, memories are shaped by how we felt at the time of their occurrence. Objective tomes of fact, they are not. A solid block of stone, the past was not.
Therefore, see not the past as wholly glorious or horrible. That would be the cardinal sin of simplification. Remember that things are stored in our minds in a prejudiced fashion. If we leave them unexplored, they stain our present consciousness in ways we are not wholly conscious of.
But if we could bring these illusions to light and interrogate them, how much clearer our thoughts and nobler our consciousness, living as it does in the evolving truth of the present.