I have always thought of "knowing" in a narrative way -- I meet someone, I learn her story, we develop trust, I learn more of her story, and in a rare friendship, know so much of her story that I could nearly tell it myself.
But these days, with friends at the park, knowing has taken on a different look. I realize that most of the people I spend time with there know virtually nothing about me: they don't know about my family, about where I grew up, or events that catapulted me into a new dimension of myself. They don't know where I've traveled or what I love to do. They don't know the darkness I plunge into from time to time or the ways I try to climb the muddy walls out of those holes. They don't know what I'm like as a mother, what makes me furious, or how I spend my days. From the way I've always thought about it, they don't know me at all. And of course, the reverse is true, too -- I know very little about most of their stories, and even the people whom I've spent a good deal of time talking to, even we have only just begun to scratch the surface of who we've been.
But the surprise is that we do know each other. Which is exactly what's caused me to rethink this whole business of knowing people. I have always thought knowing people means knowing who they've been, that intimacy is dependent upon this storyline.
We value pasts, and they certainly shape us, but I'm finding that even when the past is invisible, we still stand before each other in each bright moment as we are. Present. Caring. Angry. Teary. Silly. Us. We stand in our momentary choices and our character stands with us.
It's kind of liberating, existing in each moment that emerges.