I’m Not the Me of Then or That

Dandy Looks Eagerly Ahead

Recently, I’ve noticed an increased trend toward quoting people completely out of context.

(Please note, in this I’m not talking about politics or politicians.  That’s a completely different issue and one I am not addressing.)

There was the list of inspirational quotes credited to various people.  In several cases, lines from books were quoted, the quote credited not to the character, but to the author.

To me, there’s a big difference.  Certainly, some of my characters have said things that I would really hate to have credited as my opinion on a certain subject.

However, even when the quote was spoken by the person, speaking as the person (not as a character, a song lyric, a line in a play), time, situation, and a lot of other things can influence the opinion expressed, the thought being shaped.

The same person speaking completely differently on the same topic is not necessarily hypocrisy or lack of conviction; it may simply be that some life experience has changed them.

When Roger Zelazny died—for those of you new to my biographical details, I was living with Roger when he died, was there when he died—I was hit hard on a lot of levels.  One of the things that bothered me the most was that if through some miracle Roger would suddenly return from the dead, he wouldn’t know me, because I’d changed, and what had changed me was being there and watching him stop breathing and realizing that no matter how much he and I had worked for another resolution, we’d lost.

So, me before June of 1995, me after June of 1995.  Different person.  Me a year later, different again.

This past weekend, in the midst of a lively chat with a good friend, the subject of a certain celebrity interview came up.  Said celebrity is quite young, barely a legal adult.  We both agreed that some of the cocky, over-confident statements made should be taken with an awareness that this was an eighteen year-old singer being interviewed.

Certainly, the me of now when compared to the me of eighteen are very different people.  The me of eighteen, for example, really didn’t like little kids very much.  The me of now has grown up enough to realize it wasn’t the kids I disliked; it was the behavior their parents permitted.

These days, I’m quite likely to find talking to the kids, playing a board game, whatever, a lot more interesting than watching the adults posture and pontificate.

English professor me, who still lurks in the background, even though I haven’t taught college since 1994, would very much like for all quotes to be presented in context, neatly dated, and sourced.

Not likely, but me of once upon a time can dream!

6 Responses to “I’m Not the Me of Then or That”

  1. HelixRook Says:

    Absolutely this! I’ve said it a thousand times over the last several years. I’m not who I was yesterday nor who I will be tomorrow. Because people can change. New knowledge is gained and opinions change. People fail to grasp that someone can be different. My own family still expects me to be and treats me like the child who didn’t want to grow up but just left for college. I’ve been out of school 10 years, and have gained a lot of experience. I still don’t want to grow up, but I don’t act the same way I did and I do my best not to treat anyone with the same attitude I did when I was younger.

    But this is a world of cancel culture, and ignoring the fact that people are human and make mistakes and can change their opinions. Instead, we close our eyes and ears to people and ignore them like children in the playground.

    • janelindskold Says:

      You still don’t want to grow up? Or you still don’t want to define your adult choices by someone else’s definition? Worth considering.

      • HelixRook Says:

        A little bit of both, if I’m being honest. I don’t want to lose my imagination or outlook on the world, but I also don’t want to be ignorant of what happens in the world and be destroyed by it. Trying to find the right balance of not becoming so serious I forget to have fun while also being serious when the situation demands it. Some days it would be awesome to just go back and let others take care of all the crazy things while I enjoy life (never happens but it’s always a fond thought). But I do push back when family or friends tell me to grow up just because I’m not doing what they expect me to do. School taught me to be very technical, but my creativity taught me to do things my own way. When my boss gave myself and some coworkers an assignment to write an essay, my coworkers took the technical route, kept things very droll. “Teamwork is this. Teamwork is that.” I went creative an wrote a 2nd person narrative (something I never thought I would ever write), and decided I would be honest, but creativity mixed in with the piece. My coworkers got shoved into jobs they grew to hate, and I got put into a job that didn’t even exist, and which allowed me more creative freedom that I absolutely love. If I followed the same path as everyone else, I wouldn’t have been happy. Instead, I forged my own path, and came out better for it. It wasn’t without trial and heartache, but it was worth the suffering to get to where I am. My coworkers told me my writing and creative thinking was childish, and that I wouldn’t get far with it. Now I’m continuing to forge my own way, and refuse to listen if someone tells me I’m not doing what has always been done. But I am a deeply reflective person, and I always hunk back on the past. What I could’ve done different, what I would’ve changed. A thousand scenarios of the same moment, just to see how things would change, if they would change. But I’ve grown to realize that I’m not the same person I was yesterday. I’ve learned. And who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow because I’ll have learned even more.

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    Thank goodness we aren’t who we were in the before. We *should* be growing and changing every day of our lives. Hopefully the changes are for the better😉

    I find it interesting and occasionally frustrating how some people can take words or data and use them to fit *their* narrative rather than as the source intended.

    Thought provoking topic… love it! Thanks🌻

    • janelindskold Says:

      Thank you… And the reverse is that we must not force others into our narrative. But it’s hard, because it evovles, as both your and HelixRook said. And we don’t always have an awareness of our own tales.

  3. Alan Allinger Says:

    I agree, and I do feel like the person I was last night might not say anything like what I say this afternoon. I agree that mental evolution happens as knowledge is gathered and life is experienced… if we’re lucky.

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