I am currently reading a book with a rather interesting title that I don’t think I can actually write here without being able to do some Word magic. The author is Bryan Hubbard and he named his book The Untrue Story of You. When you look at the book’s cover, you see the word “true” crossed out with read and replaced with the word “untrue”. Intriguing to say the least. I grabbed it off the library shelf as one of three that I hoped would get me through knee surgery and recovery. It has turned out to be one of the deepest books I have ever read about the structure of human consciousness. As with any book, though, what pulls me in and forward is the application of its concepts to my life and relationships that are important to me.
The Untrue Story of You is one of those books that I could write a dozen blogs about which would end up being a rewriting of someone else’s book. There is something unethical about that. Nevertheless, I thought I’d try to share a few of Hubbard’s ideas that I found especially interesting.
Hubbard suggests that there is no single “you” that one can search for and expect to one day discover. Knowing this could have saved me years of searching and a whole lot of discouragement. I remember telling a retreat director of my search for self and all the work I had been doing and that in the end I felt I hadn’t really come up with anything. He said, “Get used to it.” I think that retreat director and Hubbard were buddies.
But Hubbard doesn’t leave one totally flapping in the wind. He says that there are three parts of self. He calls these the Past-time body, the Present-time body, and the Potential Center. I want to focus on just one of these here because, in my experience of trying to find out who Judy Jeub is, it is the area where I did most of my searching: the Past-time-body. It is easy to understand that we are talking about our lives as we have already lived them, from birth until a few minutes ago. Anything that is not right now or has not yet happened is in the past. He says that the Past-time body is made up of three layers, “because there are different memory, or energetic, forms.” These are as follows, and I will present it as he does in the book:
- The Narrative past: this is the story of the self, including your name, where you live, your culture and nationality.
- The Knowledge past: this is the problem-solving center, which remembers how to build a shelf or fix a problem on a computer.
- The Psychological past: this is the storehouse of experiences that aren’t fully witnessed, resolved or understood. Some psychologists call this the unconscious or the subconscious, but far from being unconscious, our Past is constantly seeking to be understood in a fully conscious moment and will create repeated patterns in order to do so.
Hubbard points out that the biggest problems we have in life have their source in our psychological past which is where I did most of my own soul-searching. These are experiences of the past as we remember them. I emphasize that phrase because of another point that he makes, namely, that our memory is always flawed, or as he says, not true. He gives the following reasons for this (I quote).
- A memory is never an accurate representation of an event, but rather the emotional extraction from it – the sensation or feeling we’ve been left with.
- The memory isn’t true because the experience itself was not true to begin with. Every experience has us at its centre, viewed from our own perspective. We can’t experience the whole because, as sensory beings, we’re not the whole.
- We’re already limited by previous experience and by our position at a specific point in space in time. If we were a purely perceiving thing, we wouldn’t have a memory of an experience at all. But we’re not simple enough to just see, hear, touch – instead, we interpret through the filter of faulty and incomplete memory.
What this all makes me think of is the stories that my children share as they think about their years of growing up together in our household. I am sure many parents have the same reaction as Bernie and I have. Our memory is totally different. In fact, Bernie’s and my memories are different from one another even though the events are one and the same. Hubbard’s teaching here is really helpful. A child experiencing an event in which they are the “center”, will be different from a parent or another child’s experience in which they also are the “center”. In any given scenario, one person may remember an event warmly, another feeling lonely or afraid. It all has to do with what each person brought to the moment.
I could go on and on about this with loads of examples. What Bernie and I have noticed at some of these family gatherings is that there are memories our children have that don’t ring a bell for us at all. We have consulted one another afterward. “Do you know what they are talking about?” This may be a sign of old age. I like to think that it is because we have so much to remember some experiences tended to just get buried. Then again, I wonder whether we are all talking about the same family.
One thing I can say, however, is that the stories are always interesting, far more interesting than the stories my own memory can pull up.