Last week I found myself telling a class a story about some people - essentially nice, likeable ones - I knew back in my youth and how things had turned out for them over the years, related to a mistake they made in their callow years and its manifold repercussions. I was aware there was something of an element of over-simplification in my narration (when do we ever do justice to the complexity of the experiences of others, especially painful ones?) but I felt that in some ways I did justice to the facts. Indeed, in the very telling I had a sense that I was seeing a truth about the situation that had unfolded over time, and that I was only now grasping in its fullness. I hadn't in any way prepared for the telling, and that in itself added a kind of honesty to what I was saying.
Something I'm realising more and more these days is that it's only with time that the full arc of a non-fictional narrative can work itself out - and even then no story is ever complete until its actors have left us, which may a long, long time if several generations are involved. This is all a bit intimidating if our tales are essentially based around our follies; we can only pray that some story-lines derive from our more noble moments, assuming we have them