A Final Reflection

We’ve discussed countless times in this class the ways in which the past, present, and future are invariably conflated. We also spoke recently about ways of going home. Means of finding home. And, really, broadening the meaning of home. I was really struck by the heading of Zambro’s final section in his novel— We’re All Right. This project, for me, was both a personal way of figuring out what it means to find your way home in the face of confounded senses of time and space and, furthermore, trying to pull these personal thoughts into a public, collective sphere to ensure it is recognized that we will never be fully and completely alright, but nevertheless we are, indeed, all right.

Thinking back to writing my first post, I realize I had no idea where I wanted to take my avatar, Joaquin, over the course of the semester. A name, parental occupations, and a birth date were only a scaffold—the basic framework that identifies an individual. I had facts, but no emotions. Genealogy, but little knowledge of my past. This was alarming and intimidating at first, trying to embody an individual who had not yet lived history, so to speak, but where I had the power to move him through history as I chose. That’s when I realized—I didn’t want to move him through history, but rather I wanted to become part of the past, while he, as a character, became part of the present and future through me.

I sat and stared at the computer screen for awhile until I told myself just write. After that moment, I often repeated those words before I wrote a posts. To just write and see where it would take us. I knew there was no possible way to completely separate out how I think and process as a person, so I knew that he, in a sense, would react, move, and think somewhat like I do. As the weeks progressed and we traveled forward in time I became much less of myself and more so of Joaquin when I wrote the posts. I felt as if I was better in tune with the emotions he was experiencing over the course of the dictatorship and beyond. By giving myself considerable blocks of time to write the posts themselves, I was able to put in the time and care that I thought Joaquin would have in writing to his absent father.

That is not to say that I didn’t approach each week and each post with ideas in mind of what to write. I generally would write my posts later in the week, Sunday or Monday, after I had time to sit and ruminate on what had been discussed in class. Any small facts or tidbits of information that I felt I needed to inform my entries I would look up before writing the post, though I wanted to focus more on emotions and small, intimate moments between individuals or within Joaquin himself that seemed to bring some sort of harmony and intuition to one experiencing this history. Once I had each post semi-crafted in my head, then I would begin to write. I wanted to try to embody the way one acts when they write a letter; care given to each word. But, because letters are such personal and often intimate pieces of writing, it didn’t seem right to fix every mistake, or make everything flow perfectly in a grammatical sense.

With all that being said, this process was incredibly difficult and quite mentally challenging. It’s really, really hard to try to become someone else; to try to imagine living a life that you have not lived. This also made it one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever completed. It was a creative and very different way to explore history. I was able to better understand, I think, what it means to live history, rather than seeing it as a bunch of facts in a book, on a screen, or in a lecture. Finding those emotions that connect people to large, life-altering events and small, tender moments can produce a considerable amount of personal thought and reflection that I would not have known otherwise.

I thank you for giving us the time, space, and creative outlet to explore the richness of life and history.

1 thought on “A Final Reflection

  1. ssvolk says:

    Thank you, Joaquín (for you will always be Joaquín to me) for your reflections. I think what you (and others) have found is what the protagonist in Ways of Going Home found, which is that we can only write our own stories. The avatars created are both you…and not you. The creative act can take you far away from yourself, but in this particular act of creation, empathy is located in finding yourself, not someone else, in circumstances you have never lived (and I hope you never have to). Thanks for your beautiful and intelligent posts.

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