This is a quote from Don Juan Matus in Carlos Castaneda’s book Journey to Ixtlan. That book is incredibly wild and imaginative but also very wise.
Personal history is what shapes our expectations regarding other people. Why do we get so much more mad when one person does one thing but not when another person does the same thing? We pigeonhole ourselves and each other into roles and those roles confine us, not just in terms of how we are seen and see but also how we act and are treated.
Whenever you meet up with someone, a friend, a sibling, a parent, we “catch up.” During that time, we are supposed to tell each other everything important that has happened since the last meeting. It is from that disclosure that they then construct a sense of who we are still. This is an example of renewing personal history. It fabricates a sense of continuity.
I have a friend who very naturally evades personal history. I have no idea when he goes away for vacation, when he gets a new job, if he’s dating a new girl, if he and his girlfriend broke up, and so on. It seems like he plays his cards close to the vest but he’s a very open guy. However, he’s got this trickster vibe to him and he evades taking anything too seriously.
Sometimes we meet up with certain people and feel the need to tell them EVERYTHING. Best-friends, significant others, parents, whatever. Again, we are trying to renew our personal history to give ourselves a stronger sense of identity.
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t do something because you are you? That you couldn’t get away with wearing something, going somewhere, saying “hi” to a certain stranger, because you just aren’t that kind of person? Those are the kinds of confines personal history creates. You could also call it active karma, the ideas and judgments from your past that obscure and limit the possibilities of the present.
Of course those limits aren’t real, they’re a story you keep telling yourself and others. I catch myself doing it all the time.
Here is the rest of that quote: “It is best to erase all personal history because that makes us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people. I have, little by little, created a fog around me and my life. And now nobody knows for sure who I am or what I do. Not even I. How can I know who I am, when I am all this?”
Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature. Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself, whatsoever the cost. Risking all to be oneself, that’s what maturity is all about.
Maturity in real sense