Dear Lana,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what constitutes a good past. I often write about how I wish my past were different with the assumption that if I had a less turbulent past that I would be less angsty. I’m not sure if that is a good assumption to make.

Lana, I’ve been thinking about whether my past makes me more or less of an empathetic person. Do you think experiencing hardship actually makes you more empathetic towards other people who experience hardship? These days, I’m leaning no. I think experiencing hardship just makes you more indifference towards other people who experience hardship.

When I think about the current state of my life, I think in absolutes. In reality, however, it follows relatives. I am in a relative state in my life, compared to another relative state, and another. The state of dissatisfaction persists not because I have not achieved with what I want to achieve but because mentally resolution does not come from achievement.

Understanding the world is by definition a function of selective perception. We see what we want to see, and we ignore that which does not follow the schema we have already constructed in our head. Going against this instinct is tremendously hard, as it is something that has been established sometime in childhood and adolescence. Being able to challenge this instinct amounts to taking control of existence, which I find to be impossible given my deterministic understanding of motivation.

A good past. Would that free me from the cycles of selective perception that I find myself following into? Or is it something more human, as if perception is influenced by events a lot less than I previously thought it did? I’m not sure, Lana. It sure would be an easy way to live life: if I had the answer to all of life’s hypotheticals.