Imagine two lives: one with people sitting around complaining. The second with people complimenting those around. Two opposites but both situations re-invent the people involved. Within a person’s life he or she may go through hundreds or even thousands of re-inventions. This appears every day, every hour, and every minute. People continuously and subconsciously re-invent themselves every moment.
Of course, some may say that re-invention only happens when a person fully knows and understands who they are. This happens during a time many refer to as a “mid-life crisis”. The person realizes they have not been living the life they dreamed of living as a child. Then a realization leads to figuring out who the person desires to be. Thus they begin a years’ long process of reinvention to become their desired image. However, a moment does not pass by when a person is not about to re-invent themselves. Re-invention is a cycle within life. Many people will not be aware of the small re-inventions they go through in life. Assume someone experiences a horrible day; that day changes the direction of their life. The day imprints on the brain’s memory, more so when it is a negative event (Tugend). Sigmund Freud had a similar idea within his psychoanalytic theory of personality explaining how human behavior and personality links to a past experience. The experiences are filed away in the brain Events happened in the past, even a second ago, will change a person’s personality. Someone’s personality changes to create a different version of themselves, or a new re-invention.. The personalities constantly change due to past experiences, and the past experiences constantly change the person.
In addition, re-invention transpires no matter the decisions, trade offs, or opportunity costs a person takes. People may not be aware of subtle re-inventions, but due to a small breakthrough, or setback, he or she has shifted the rest of their past decisions around thus re-inventing themselves subconsciously. If a person gives up taking the school bus one day to walk to school, it changes their entire day; therefore shuffling their past decisions around to re-invent themselves on the way to school. Perhaps on that walk they watch a brilliant sunrise they may not have seen on the school bus due to boisterous peers around them. It will change how they see all future and past sunrises. The jazz music scene in Zora Neale Hurston’s “How it Feels to be Colored Me” immensely impacts her viewpoint. A re-invention occurred. However, for the man across the room, the music appeared to barely change him. Except that is not true. The music re-invented him, but not in the same way it re-invented Hurston. He re-invents in such a minor way compared to Hurston so it appears the jazz music does not change him. Re-invention is a subconscious event, so only some people are aware of it. A person cannot force re-invention to transpire. If they realize they changed, then they did so while looking into the past.
Moreover, relationships subconsciously re-invent the person involved. For example, an abusive relationship may result in an outspoken, independent person becoming a shy, dependent girl or boy. The victims may not realize the excuses that they make for their abuser are re-inventing their thoughts; their thoughts about how they deserve the abuse is re-inventing their reactions, and their reactions to protect, or not to protect, themselves is re-inventing their entire selves (Domestic Violence). Another example comes from Julia Alvarez’s “Daughter of Invention.” Within the story the daughter re-invents herself based on her mother and father’s re-inventions in America. The daughter and father grow away from each other, while the daughter and mother grow closer together. The mother and daughter are both proud to be in America and succeeding, while the father is loyal to his homeland of the Dominican Republic. The daughter becomes stronger and confident with her new language right along with the mother. The relationships in the writing re-invent just as the people are re-inventing themselves. Being in an abusive relationship or immigrating to a new country are a few extreme cases of how relationships can re-invent a person. A more subtle, and less obvious, cause of re-invention is through a person’s ancestors. How someone’s ancestors lived and what their ancestors left behind can greatly influence their lives because of humanity’s natural curiosity for history. In Maxine Hong Kingston’s personal essay “No Name Woman” which is about Kingston illustrating different reasons of how her aunt had essentially committed adultery. Her family never talked about what happened because the Chinese culture forbade it. With Kingston growing up in America, she struggled with coming to terms with Chinese culture. Finally, after years of silence from Kingston’s family, she decides to break the silence. Whether she realized this re-invention or not, Kingston was re-invented because of what her family and ancestors did not do. She broke the unbreakable silence, and her voice became stronger due to a secret no longer holding her back in her life. (Kingston)
Throughout a person’s life re-invention occurs either due to an experience or ancestral history without them being aware of it. Re-invention has thousands upon thousands of opportunities to appear and influence a person’s life. It can happen without a person being aware of the event happening, like what a person eats, how they get places, or what music they listen to. Every decision a person makes has a cost or trade off. The re-invention god does not care if the decision a person makes is about what shoes they wear today or if the person is deciding about which house to buy; the choice shifts all past decisions creating an altogether new entity. A person’s ancestral history and the relationships they are in also re-invent someone. How a person acts with their mother versus their friends are completely different, and each time that person acts differently they create a new persona whether they want to or not. They are re-inventing themselves each time they interact with people to fit the situation they are in. Also, what a person’s ancestors did influence the person’s decisions today and all future decisions. If an ancestor had a huge family, perhaps that will make a person want a huge family. If an ancestor died and the family is quiet about it, perhaps the person will investigate and talk about it with others, like in Maxine Kingston’s personal essay. Re-invention is not a one and done deal. Re-invention occurs throughout an entire lifetime without people being aware of it transpiring. Frederic de Narp puts re-invention beautifully with just a few simple words: “You have to reinvent yourself every day, and that means being a pioneer.”
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