Tell better stories about yourself.
Once upon a girlfriend ago, she remarked that the stories I told about myself weren't particularly good ones. They tended to highlight faults or flaws and I didn't end up well in many of them. She asked if I had any better stories to tell, where by "better" she meant stories that reflected on my better qualities. Of course I have such stories and I began to practice telling them. Now, more than 20 years later, these better stories are really the only ones I tell.
That's interesting. It means there are some stories I will likely never tell again. Some stories I'd intended to tell I may take to my grave untold. Is that fair? Am I lying by painting a one-sided picture of myself? In my stories I'm funny, perceptive, helpful, clever. Those are all true things about me but they're obviously not all the things about me. Is an edited (curated?) picture a true picture?
I think about this sometimes when I'm editing my photo shoots. If I crop someone out of a picture am I creating a lie by saying that person wasn't there? If I delete the only photo I have of someone at an event am I making a hole in reality?
I also have to bear in mind that we now understand memory is not a fixed thing - every time we remember we re-create and rewrite our memories. That's just a fact about how human brains work but it implies that we're always rewriting our memories with our present sensibilities. Was I actually the funny, perceptive, clever, helpful person in those stories or is that just the way I've rewritten them in my mind?
I know I get facts wrong in some of my stories - I've been able to check myself against independent sources and sometimes it's clear that I've got something wrong. For example, I remember that I first started using Napster in 2000 because Julie Kramer - at the time a radio DJ at WFNX - wouldn't play a particular song I called in to request. Usually she did play what I requested, so the time she refused stuck in my head. My coworkers then were all big into Napster and when they heard me complaining they told me how to find the song through the software so I could listen to it. I used to tell the story as being about one particular song until I found out that song wasn't released until 2001. Nowadays I'm pretty sure the song was the Hersh/Stipe duet "Your Ghost" but I've no idea if that's what it really was or if that's just how I've rewritten my memory to be consistent.
It will probably surprise few of you that one of my favorite movies is Rashomon, Kurosawa's masterpiece in which several characters tell their own (self-serving) versions of events all witnessed or were part of.
OK, so that's a thing, but it begs the question - does it matter? If I get trivial facts wrong in the story is that a big deal? Does it matter what the details are so much as what the story says about me and the other people in it? Am I still telling better stories about myself?
And I wonder, dear readers, if you hear me still telling bad stories about myself.