If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, February 26, 2010


Amanda wants us to write about continuity this month. I think of continuity as the intersection of time and stillness. Sameness can't exist without time.

To be continuous is to endure.
To be continuous is to hold on.

My science is all about continuity. I study daily life. I study the routines, habits and even relationships that we take for granted; that become the background for our stories about ourselves.

It can be difficult to capture daily life. When you tell a story, what are the parts you edit for brevity? What are the details you don't think to include? What are the pieces that you assume? Who are the people so familiar that you don't bother to describe them?

When we tell the story of our lives we create continuity. In fact, we recreate the continuity of our lives daily; making connections between events to make an unwavering whole; a single line. We narrate our continuous story to ourselves.

It is life's traumas and peaks that disrupt our story line. For these transitions we make allowances. We tell the story of us before and us after but still we search for the continuity between the two selves. Most people assume I want to hear about the breakpoints; the sections where trajectories changed. They can't imagine being interested in sameness.

My science is about continuity but it is also about change.

It is difficult to change behavior. As a species, we tend to do what we have done before. When we make change it often becomes temporary and we fall back to what we know; to what fits our story of ourselves; to what is unquestioned. Understanding the meaning of our daily sameness and then exploring where it does and doesn't work, are small steps we can take in an effort to create lasting change.


Maggie May said...

i am reading Doris Lessing's 'The Golden Notebook' and last night i just read the part where she talks about continuity in novels. about how without it, the most brilliant things make no sense and the presumption is of course that then, they are useless. hm.

Drax said...

This is deep and powerful and dead serious and I don't want to trivialize by writing something stupid so I will only ask for "more."

DrDudeChick said...

what a beautiful post!

it brings a few reflections to my mind:

what about when we forget who we were before the transition? what if the trauma wiped the memories of self as it was before? how do we know if we are still the same or changed?

biochem belle said...

Great, thought-provoking post!

Julie said...

Wonderful post. I'm always inclined to tell the story of my husband's cancer as a big part of our life story. The routine we created during that time helped us deal with it a lot.

But everyday events when life is "normal" are just as much a part of who we are. I enjoyed this one so much. The last sentence of your post will stay with me always.

ruth pennebaker said...

I've already written a post on narrative, with some overlaps with yours, that I won't publish till tomorrow. Enjoyed yours -- but didn't want you to think I'm ripping you off. That would be a capital offense, in my mind.

Annie said...

Hi Brigindo,
I'm interested in learning more about your research. I'm wondering if, in a "poetic" sense, what you are referring to as "sameness" is the unalterable core of "who we are," however, I believe "who we are" is changeable, that we grow and change and evolve, based on the joys and traumas we experience. Perhaps I just don't relate to the concept of "sameness," or perhaps I don't understand your use of the term. I find the concept of the stories we tell ourselves, to be intriguing; but even there, I think I can see through the story I tell myself. I think I have learned there is no objective truth, only the stories we tell ourselves. (I hope this comment is making some sense!)