Dear Lana,

I was thinking about life as trajectory. You set out, you are influenced, and you become.

I think there’s a lot about human nature that wants to make sense of things. When things happen to us, we try our best to make sense of what happened to us. This type of thinking also affects our future; we tend to seek a future that makes sense of our past.

There’s nothing more universal than having things happen to us. Although it seems quite contradictory, becoming requires occurrence. You cannot become anything if nothing happens to you. This, I’ve come to realize, is especially true during COVID. Nothing happens, and therefore I am not becoming anything. I am sufficiently isolated from the world around me. Everyone I interact with is sufficiently isolated from the world around them. Nothing happens to us. We do not become anything. Nothing happens. Nothing becomes.

I find myself asking myself, what constitutes resilience? It is supposedly a source of internal steadiness that grounds us in a turbulent external world, but what is it? How much of our lives is supposedly shaped around how resilient we are? Is resilience an image of an uncompromising internal world in the face of external forces? I wonder if there’s such thing as mental fortitude — not necessarily about enduring pain, but more about not letting the pain we experience lead to a need to make sense of that pain in our life.

If you ask someone how they became the way they are, they’re probably able to point to a couple experiences that pushed them one direction over another. They would say, “Oh yeah, XYZ affected me a lot” or “I wasn’t the same after XYZ.”

We construct meaning in our lives through the things that happen to us. Our identity is product, and personal history is cause. Do you ever feel that way, Lana? Did the things that happened to you lead to believe certain things about yourself, defining what you wanted for yourself for the rest of your life?