The Rewriting of History

The Rewriting of History

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My good friend Nathalie sent me the book eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It tells the author’s story of her travels and personal insights after a failed marriage. It arrived the day after I signed my divorce papers. I’ve been trying to save it for the few days I’m taking off next week, but I can’t help myself; when I have a few quiet minutes, I pick it up and read one of the short chapters.

Today I read this:

“I am inspired by the regal self-assurance of this town, so grounded and rounded, so amused and monumental, knowing that she is held securely in the palm of history. I would like to be Rome when I am an old lady.”
~ Chapter 25 of eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Up until recently, I thought I was Rome. I believed if I chose my responses and reasons with the highest intentions, I would build a strong history that could not be disputed. My loved ones would realize I always considered their needs ahead of mine.

I was consistent.

I was solid.

I remained true and never let jealousy, pettiness, or selfishness affect my decisions.

What I failed to recognize was, if they had not insightfully abandoned those same self-serving traits, their selfishness would never allow them to acknowledge my selflessness.

Instead history became clay to be manipulated.

Although they know the truth, unlike Rome, I don’t have volumes of proof, I only have the certainty of my own convictions and the wonderment that the truth is buried deep within their hearts.

At a young age, I learned a very hard lesson. It was important to treat people with the love and respect they deserved. My great grandmother loved me. She was always kind, always helpful, she read to me, loved me and listened like no one else. I wanted her to know how much I loved and respected her.

I was barely into the double digits when I did something out of character. I had a temper tantrum. I don’t remember why, other than it was insignificant. I do clearly recall laying on her bed flailing my hands and kicking my legs. I connected with her several times while she tried to calm me down.

Afterwards, I was ashamed and embarrassed. I’m not even sure if I apologized. When she died shortly thereafter, rather than remembering all the wonderful times we’d had together, my memories were tarnished with shame and guilt instead.

It was a monumental life lesson.

Years later, I let go of the negative associations because I realized my great grandmother would never have judged me based on that one incident. She would have loved me regardless, she’d have forgiven me quickly. I had allowed my guilt to rewrite our history into something negative.

My history is being rewritten by others to allow themselves to feel better about current events, to cut apron strings and – hopefully – to result in personal growth.

No matter how painful it is in the moment, there is a missing piece I need to garner from Rome:

“Rome just watches all the fussing and striving, completely unfazed, exuding an air like: Hey – do whatever you want, but I’m still Rome.”
~ Chapter 25 of eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

People can burn down buildings but a strong foundation continues to exist beneath the ashes waiting to be discovered again. History can be rewritten but the markers of time remain.

“Say whatever you want, but I’ve always done the best for you.”

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Comments

  1. I love you… and you may not be Rome yet in your eyes, but you are beautiful, and you do have a regal self-assurance, and you are grounded and rounded, and despite the faults you see in yourself, know that Rome too has her faults, and she is loved regardless of them.

  2. Thank you for your words and thoughts and eye opening way of looking at things.

  3. I read the book and did not like it. Elizabeth Gilbert ended up being so selfish and there was rlaely no substance to her story.The movie was pretty bad too. I LOVE Julia Roberts and was so excited for her to be in the movie (that was before I read the book) but I ended up turning the movie off twice before I could make myself sit and watch it. And even when I did “watch” it, I read magazines the whole time.Though I will say, the traveling bits are awesome. I loved everything about Italy, but I’m not sure if it would be worth sitting through all of it just for that.

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