from the book "Useful Not True":

The past is not true


When I was 17, I was driving recklessly and crashed into an oncoming car. I found out that I broke the other driver’s spine, and she’ll never walk again.

I carried that burden with me everywhere, and felt so horrible about it for so many years that at age 35 I decided to find this woman to apologize. I found her name and address, went to her house, knocked on the door, and a middle-aged woman answered. As soon as I said, "I’m the teenager that hit your car eighteen years ago and broke your spine", I started sobbing - a big ugly cry, surfacing years of regret. She was so sweet, and hugged me saying, "Oh sweetie, sweetie! Don’t worry. I’m fine!" Then she walked me into her living room. Walked.

Turns out I had misunderstood. Yes she fractured a couple vertebrae but it never stopped her from walking. She said "that little accident" helped her pay more attention to her fitness, and since then has been in better health than ever. Then she apologized for causing the accident in the first place. Apologized.

I said, "Well, no, it was my fault for ignoring the yield sign."

She said, "No, it was my fault because I was eating while driving and not watching the road. You didn’t hit me. I hit you."

Seems we had both thought the accident was our fault, and had spent eighteen years feeling bad about it. This time she started crying, sniffled, grabbed a tissue to wipe her eyes and said, "It’s so stupid - these stories."

Aim a laser pointer at the moon, then move your hand the tiniest bit, and it’ll move a thousand miles at the other end. The tiniest misunderstanding long ago, amplified through time, leads to piles of misunderstandings in the present.

We think of the past like it’s a physical fact - like it’s real. But the past is what we call our memory and stories about it. Imperfect memories, and stories built on one interpretation of incomplete information. That’s "the past".

You can change your history. The actual factual events are such a small part of it. Everything else is perspective, open for re-interpretation. The past is never done.

© 2023 Derek Sivers.

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  1. isaiah (2023-07-19) #

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  2. Emily S. (2023-07-19) #

    Wow. That is a story that belongs in your next book. Or could be made into a movie... Dramatic....Amazing ending. Thank you!

  3. Michael Tomlinson (2023-07-19) #

    Derek, I'm so glad you shared this story. I have known for a few decades now that all of written history is false. And not just because people lied. It's impossible to capture truth. We can test that every day of our lives by retelling stories and listening to our friends say, "Wait! It wasn't at YOUR house, it was at MY house." We'll never know whose house it was, but in the telling of the story there is maybe more truth than we've ever heard.

    Thank you for what you do.

    In Friendship, Michael Tomlinson

  4. Laurie Larson (2023-07-19) #

    This should be in a textbook, taught to us along with logic, math, science, empathy & art. Such a lovely insight Derek!

  5. Arthur (2023-07-19) #

    Fascinating. (Said in Spock’s voice)

  6. Mark D (2023-07-19) #

    I appreciate the sentiment and the story, but I don't resonate with this part: "The actual factual events are such a small part of the story that they’re almost insignificant." Maybe you could elaborate a bit on that?

  7. Lani (2023-07-19) #

    You don’t necessarily want to change the story but appreciate the story. It’s the story of you!!! Been savoring the last episodes of the series This Is Us. I can’t watch it without sobbing because it is so real and is the story of life in all its ups and downs but you realize it really is what makes you who you are!! Find love and strength in it and bloom!!!!

  8. Jim (2023-07-19) #


    I've always loved the idea that History is simply one story. What we call "history" is what was written down by the people who had the most power at some time. For much of the world, for example, history is what European colonizers deemed was important to recall -- so little was captured about what women or indigenous peoples did or created, as though the Americas and Australia did not exist until they were "discovered." So I've always been fascinated by what are called "alternate histories" which often take the same dates and events and tell a new story. When I read the new story, history as I know it shifts.

    Thank you, Derek, for the reminder that we can do that for ourselves, as well!

  9. Daniel (2023-07-19) #

    Beautiful little story, thank you for sharing positivity.

  10. Larry (2023-07-19) #

    I love this! I have long suspected that I regularly re-live events that didn't happen anything like my memory tells me. Fueled by adrenalin and cortisol, my brain cells of the past registered something that was only connected to reality by the thinnest of threads.

  11. Stephen Pettie (2023-07-19) #

    Everything seems subjective to the what makes sense but the truth holds many unexpected untruths!!!!

  12. Elise (2023-07-19) #

    Jesus! What a story Derek. Just incredible. Thank god you went back to find her.

  13. Danielle (2023-07-19) #

    Great story, the underlying concept is quite challenging for the justice system, however!

  14. Jen Stackpole (2023-07-19) #

    Derek -

    This is profoundly brilliant and exactly what I needed at this particular moment in time. Thank you - SO much - for sharing it.

    I'm beyond grateful that she is okay - and that you are as well. In the end, what a beautiful (and healing) experience for you both - and for the rest of us as well. Thank you again.

  15. Menon (2023-07-19) #

    Great article. But it may not be very wise to state that "History is not true" - especially in today's post-truth era. There is enough confusion today as is. For example, it is true that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. The interpretation of history (and may be even stated facts) may not be true - but that does not mean we consign the entire notion of history into dustbin.

  16. Lisa Monet (2023-07-19) #

    Thank you, Derek. This story helps me to remember that mistakes I made in the past are things I wouldn't do again if I were in that situation again. And now, with your fresh perspective, I realize that what I remember could very well be exaggerated and/or not what happened at all.

  17. Zip (2023-07-19) #

    So true.

    When talking to someone I knew years ago and they share a story involving both of us, the recalls are sometimes completely different.

    Who knows what's true?


  18. Gary Pickus (2023-07-19) #

    Quite provocative on multiple levels, Derek.

    I remember perusing "The People's History of the United States" which for me was a glaring confirmation that what we're taught in school is primarily a misleading story to sustain the jingoistic caucasian supremacy status quo.

    Our major institutions seem to me the main exhibits for masters of "truth manipulation," and I would love to see THAT subject taught in school at an early age to get us questioning everything, and working together to bring about more of an equitable life for all.

    My agenda is working for the common good, and that seems to fly in the face of most of the agendas imposed on us.

  19. Adam Cole (2023-07-19) #

    That is absolutely fascinating.

    Here's a wild, but only tangental quote that relates to this:

    "Sometimes in order to be happy in the present moment you have to be willing to give up all hope for a better past."

    ― Robert Holden

  20. Seth David Branitz (2023-07-19) #

    So glad you stepped up and got / GAVE so much more thank you planned to. And that you’re both well.

  21. Angela Stribling (2023-07-19) #

    Thanks Derek!

    This is awesome.

    I so appreciate all of your insights.

    Thanks Again,


  22. Steve Consilvio (2023-07-19) #

    Great story, but the part about you having an accident is true. What wasn’t true is what others told you.
    It’s less about history than you think. That was a burden you carried for a long time, and as you matured it became more heavy. That is because on of the first steps in growth is learning to forgive ourselves. We can’t repent until we recognize our mistakes.
    Nobody can change the past. We can change our understanding of it. And in that sense, history is not true. The truth never actually changed. We change to meet it.
    (I’m actually writing an essay that touches on this briefly).

  23. Steve Kusaba (2023-07-19) #

    Where did you get that picture of my car?

  24. John luongo (2023-07-19) #

    I love the story for the inspiration, the enlightenment, and the fact that sometimes when we come forward, expecting the war us, and excepting responsibility for it, we may just find an answer we didn’t expect, and be free from the burden we put upon our self!

    Thanks Derek


  25. Adam (2023-07-19) #

    I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this story.
    Like it moved something inside me. Like a puzzle piece I was trying to force in for years and only now you turned it a bit and it fit right in.

    Thank you for guiding my hand and confusing to share these wonderful insights and stories!

  26. Nash from Nashville (2023-07-19) #

    WOW! WOW! So powerful. Thanks Derek for sharing.

  27. Trade Martin (2023-07-19) #

    DEREK, you're a good man for doing that, but in this day & age I'm surprised she even let you in her house....!!!

  28. Bird (2023-07-19) #

    I love you. No srsly. This......

  29. Jane A. Bakken (2023-07-19) #

    Derek - I always enjoy your 'food ...well, feast for thought!' - I applaud your courage for sharing your inner soul journey and all the musings that are whispered in your Soul's Inner Ear - this is sooo True! I enjoy looking at our soul journey through the lens of quantum physics and the Truth that the past, present and future are happening all in the same moment.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Grateful -
    Jane A. Bakken

  30. FireDean (2023-07-19) #

    So much clarity. A powerful argument for The Present:-)

  31. Meg (2023-07-19) #

    This story will likely change my future thoughts about many of my past stories. Thank you for sharing. I needed to hear this story...

    Meg Okura

  32. Serena (2023-07-19) #

    It happened to me to see with my eyes, that you can actually save somebody by telling them a different story about themselves. Thank you, Derek ❤

  33. Gayle (2023-07-19) #

    Beautiful. Thanks for the reminder of how perspective (right or wrong) can play such an important part of self love or loathing.

  34. Rajan (2023-07-19) #

    Love this. Yes, past is not true. Most of us think it is the present that is hard to predict but it is the past that is hard to predict. We predict it in false ways

  35. Alex (2023-07-19) #

    Wow, what a story!

  36. Douglas (2023-07-19) #

    Powerful and motivating thought - " It’s never too late to change a story."

  37. Marwan (2023-07-19) #

    Funny how life works as I was thinking about my own gullibility in the interpretation of past events when I was younger and how unbelievably dumb and sure of myself I was back then.

    The past does not indeed exist. Our memories are tinted with the filters through which we perceived the "facts" and whatever assumptions we have created about what really happened are significant skewed away from what really happened. Our memories lie to us and should be taken with a mountain of salt.

    All that really matters is who we are now. All that really matters is what we do now.

  38. John (2023-07-19) #

    With all those years of guilt and stress, did you manage to cope? if so, how? Very intriguing story.

  39. Maria Jose (2023-07-19) #

    This is precious advice for me thank you so much for sharing this insight!

  40. Rachel K (2023-07-19) #

    Wow, I love this! So eye opening and what a gift that you were able to reconnect with her.

  41. Naeseong (2023-07-19) #

    I loved the moon analogy.

  42. Wayne MacDonald (2023-07-19) #

    Amazing... and consistent with both my experiences and observations...

    Add in perspective and context, you'll find the present isn't true either.

  43. Fots (2023-07-19) #

    Love your work, Derek. This is no exception.

  44. Glennie (2023-07-19) #

    Truth is elusive. I learned some previously hidden secrets from my beloved aunt shortly before she died that helped me understand a lot of what happened to me when I was very young, for which I blamed myself for years, convincing myself that I was an unworthy being. Being able to "rewrite my story" has given me much relief and allowed me to feel greater joy than I've ever known. I wish the same for all.

  45. Shaz Jones (2023-07-19) #

    Derek, I'm so sorry you carried that burden for 18 years. But this one article alone (let alone all the other work you've created) will lift so many burdens from others. What a beautiful gift you're giving us all - thank you!

  46. Archie Patterson (2023-07-19) #

    GREAT story that's so true Derek!

    In some small way due to several small miracles I am still doing what I did when we knew each other and have accomplished more than I could ever have imagined...

    Ars Longa Vita Brevis

  47. Ellen (2023-07-19) #

    You made me cry a river Thank you for this.

  48. Mikey (2023-07-19) #

    Brilliant again, as always. You teach me so much. By asking myself, "What would Derek do?" I don't have to bother you, yet I learn how to be better. Keep it up, DS!

  49. Chuck Hortler (2023-07-19) #

    you had me until the epilogue.

    our *perception* of the past may indeed be untrue but you started out the story with *the truth*: "When I was 17, I was driving recklessly and crashed into an oncoming car. "

    This was not an untruth.

    The fact of the matter is that when we sin, we crash into... each other. There are consequences.

    You both repented of wrongdoing. Is it so harsh, so boorish, so gauche, so out of style, so out of touch to use this ancient term, "repentance"?

    One episode of what's so bloody important to The Kardashians ought to inform our conscience that the modern evaluation importance is so infantile, so corrupting, so backwards, so cruel, so cynical that it ought to bring us to our knees in apology for the human race who required the blood of Jesus Christ to have any reason for existence.

    Paul, the apostle, indicated the entire Old Testament was there for our review of what was applicable to the haute couture of his day. The Prophets read like a page of every modern newspaper.

    Where are they ("the Kardashians" of Greco-Roman culture he spoke to) today?

    Look forward to your response to disabuse me of my horribletrad view of such advanced, intensely intellectual, modern-only, never-before-experienced (nothing new under the sun?) angst .

  50. Mike (2023-07-19) #

    Derek - brilliant observation. All the simple one are.

    Yes, this IS the outline of many movies. Just ask Kurt Vonnegut. There's a YouTube video of his 'Shape of Stories' that seems fitting here.

  51. Marcel (2023-07-19) #

    History is what every individual believes happened in the past. Some of these believes are true but most of them are being told by someone else. And history as we learned it in school is biased.
    Since we can not change the past or tell the future with certainty we can be more relaxed live in the present moment.

  52. Anil (2023-07-19) #

    What an amazingly lovely article, Derek! Made my day. We all live with several regrets from our past that we don’t make any effort to resolve in the present, unlike you. The fear of retribution is numbing and we discount the pain of living with these feelings every day, more so during difficult times when the past seems to become the present as a new event looks remarkably similar to any one of those fears. Keep writing my friend and I can’t wait to read the new book.

  53. Gamliel (2023-07-19) #

    Thank you for this incredible story. As a social worker, I have found that the effects of many childhood traumas can often be mitigated by reframing the person's experience. I hope to use this tale to help my clients see the power of rewriting their history.

  54. Edward (2023-07-19) #

    I needed to hear this today Derek! Thank you for sharing it.

  55. Milo F (2023-07-19) #

    I think you could improve this by dropping the last sentence, and in the last paragraph making a distinction between History, our story about what happened, and perspective.
    Also, the facts are sometimes pretty crucial. For example, my best-ever piano teacher cancelled a lesson with me because ‘something came up’, the something being that his suicide was that day.
    I think your point is that the story/history draws from so much more than only the facts, not that the facts themselves are insignificant.

  56. Paul Adams (2023-07-19) #

    LOVE that story. Have read quite a lot of near death stories through the years. That concept of non judgement, forgiveness and letting go is so beautiful. So sorry you carried that. But lead to a great post Derek
    paul a

  57. Robert (2023-07-19) #

    Great stuff Derek. Thanks. Sometimes it's a matter of sharing a story(factual or fiction) and it being received with compassion, for it's grip to be released.

  58. Elizabeth Deacle (2023-07-19) #

    Needed to read this right now Derek! Thank you. I LOVE the way you write.

  59. suemori (2023-07-19) #

    it is actually a chaper..

  60. Matt Rath (2023-07-19) #

    Beautiful my friend

  61. Miguel (2023-07-19) #

    Such an applicable insight. We live so much in the past that we forget to build a home in the future. Thank you.

  62. Diana Bell (2023-07-19) #

    Hell yeah! So when is "Useful Not True" being released? Count me in…

  63. Nefer Lopez (2023-07-19) #

    If we can construct the past in our mind, we can reconstruct it. Never considered that. Thank you.

  64. Amandah (2023-07-19) #

    Quite timely… I just found out my 40 year old nephew passed away. He went in for a routine back surgery, a fairly healthy athlete, and when they cut him open, found his body was riddled with stage 4 cancer "everywhere." I have been thinking about him and the time we spent together when he was younger a lot over the past few days. I hadn’t seen him in quite a while—he has lived in Hawaii and I’m on the East Coast. I still remember the last time I saw him and not being thrilled with the way he treated his sister. After reading this, I feel there is a little hope in rewriting some foggy memories.

  65. Normand Jones (2023-07-19) #

    Very good story, it happens to all of us at many points. Never assume:)

  66. Prakash (2023-07-19) #


  67. Rex (2023-07-19) #

    That hit hard.

  68. marky (2023-07-19) #

    Thanks Derek, this was a moving read. That must have been so painful to carry for 18 years. Thank you for the reminder to practice vulnerability, and to hold space for others' perspectives.

  69. Zach Even - Esh (2023-07-19) #

    Amazing and powerful story.

    We can create our own stories in our head and stress out over things that don't exist or perhaps never existed.

    I believe it's a skill we must learn although some have this innate skill of just "moving on".

    I find myself often "caring too much" and it can hurt me for sure.

    Thank you for sharing your work and thoughts, Derek.

    You always inspire :)

  70. Victor Curtis (2023-07-19) #

    Wow! Thank you for sharing!

  71. Ashish Kolarkar (2023-07-19) #

    What an incredible thought. Thank you for making us aware.

  72. Jon (2023-07-19) #

    It is so sad how a story becomes our reality. We think we are truth tellers when in fact we are story or history tellers. It takes a lot of effort, awareness and even skill to step out of the story and create a possibility of joy and peace in the present moment.

    Thanks for the reminder. Jon

  73. Andy Cheng (2023-07-19) #

    Love it!

    The accumulation of "the past stories" have created many limiting believes for me. Big ones like "I'm bad at investing" to small ones like "Japanese natto always tastes bad". These believes have hindered my growth and quality of life.

    Thank you so much for this article. This shift of mindset is a great reminder for me, to not be defined by my own interpretation of the past.

    Thanks Derek!

  74. Jacob Meador (2023-07-19) #

    Happens all the time, I'm sure.

  75. Nick (2023-07-19) #

    Such a great perspective. TY for sharing

  76. Robin (2023-07-19) #

    Love this. Communication is the key to release from guilt and regret...

  77. Dilip (2023-07-19) #

    We ‘create’ stories around a factual incident. The stories move us, not the facts! Rightly someone has said, ‘the world is made of stories, not atoms!’

    Rightly you have mentioned (or, rather, I have understood), that stories are not the facts but the deviated presentation of the facts. The gap, if it is of negative connotation, then it weighs heavy. However, if the gap is of positive connotation, it can build a life!

    Thanks Derek for triggering these thoughts.

  78. Alex (2023-07-19) #

    Needed this today.
    My wife's best friend passed away this week and you get to thinking about the point of it all. How we all hold onto pain, onto grudges, onto history that has been and long gone.
    Our brains are equal parts incredible and broken.
    Which is what makes life so frustratingly beautiful.

  79. Andy (2023-07-19) #

    A touching story and important point for us all to learn from. We’re our own worst enemies most of the time; well some of us anyway. The way we berate and belittle ourselves is terrible. We wouldn’t speak to others that way. Your story is a nice reminder of the importance of letting the past be, accepting that we just don’t know all the facts, and allowing the reflection instead to simply inspire us to better ourselves in whatever way possible. I always enjoy your writing and thinking. Thanks for sharing.

  80. Swami (2023-07-19) #

    Powerful story, Derek. If you didn't go, you'd have never known.

  81. Andrew Lipow (2023-07-19) #

    The Theory of Shrodinger’s Cat. You found the truth once you truly looked.

  82. Nga (2023-07-19) #

    When I was 12 years old, due to a misunderstanding with my math teacher, we had a small argument. That afternoon, she had a stroke and passed away two days later. My classmates at that time shunned me, believing I was the cause of her death. Nine years later, at the age of 22, I finally mustered the courage to visit her grave and apologize. When I turned 29, I realized that I was a victim of school violence in that story.

    I carried that burden until today, for 18 years, even though I went back to apologize and tried to talk to old friends to gain a different perspective on the past, I still occasionally feel sad about it. I don't want to change the past, but I am in the process of changing my perspective. Everything that happened has its reasons, and the past has shaped who I am today. Thank you for what you do. Love all your books!

  83. Don (2023-07-19) #

    Love that story.
    Thank you

  84. Marian Kemp (2023-07-19) #

    So glad you were both okay. You made a good point. Thanks for writing this.

  85. Heidi (2023-07-19) #

    Yes, very nicely written, your style use so succinct yet powerful. Thank you
    You helped me to realize that this is true in relationships especially parent child. I begrudged my parents until recently for the way they ignored me... Now I realize that they were just doing the best they could. My memory was something of a falsity. And currently, my son of 27 begrudges me for something I did in his childhood, yet, I have no clue because essentially I dedicated 20 years to raising him in the best most loving way... Seems there's a few millennials who go to "counselors" who tell them they've been traumatized, by their parents, when the truth is more likely... The system

  86. Richard Gannon (2023-07-19) #

    Love it my man!

    A wise Brazilian friend said to me a few months back, "Everything changes, including the past". My mind is still contorted thinking thru this!

    And I loved your discussion with Tim Ferriss, you have to keep earning the labels we call ourselves, otherwise they expire

    Lift out of whatever negative self-talk you give yourself and project a story that brings people with you!

  87. Michael (2023-07-19) #

    Correction: The REPORTING of HISTORY can be changed. Politicians, political movements, the media, and even everyday folks "change" history to suit their purposes all the time. There is now the popular notion that "This is my truth. It may not be your truth." All of this a horrible corruption. Opinion is not a replacement for HISTORY which is immutable. The bottom line is that we need to be aware that what we read or are being told may not reflect what actually happened. This isn’t a revelation but most people are too intellectually lazy or lack specific knowledge to determine truth and therefore HISTORY.

  88. Darien (2023-07-19) #

    Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing. I love it when forgiveness and truth can heal. ❤

  89. Eric (2023-07-19) #

    So meaningful...Thanks for sharing, Derek :-)

  90. Tony (2023-07-19) #

    Amazing post. This came to me at the right moment in my life as I go through some significant & challenging life changes.

    Btw, I love your book "How to Live," revert to it often, and also pack it in my carry-on bag during monthly business trips.

    Thanks for all of your content, it really helps us nerdy-cool Stoics bumping into the guardrails of every day life.

  91. Jon (2023-07-19) #

    Thank you for sharing. It’s like taking these for granted. You just "assume" but in this case that assumption caused a lot of pain on both ends. This falls under so many categories. It’s like you opened a Pandora’s box of thoughts and possible misconceptions. Maybe I’m going too deep?

    Either way, I always appreciate sonnets.


  92. Ross K. (2023-07-19) #

    Thank you for sharing Derek. So much to learn from this one!

  93. Jerome (2023-07-19) #

    Did that really happen to you or did you invent that story?

  94. Matt Eaton (2023-07-19) #

    A willingness to take responsibility and ask forgiveness is the key to maintaining an untethered soul.

  95. Andrea and Nikki (2023-07-19) #

    Right time Derek, thank you.

    It makes you think about the past relationships coupled with ancestral trauma and quantum theory.

  96. Rich H Chiuppi (2023-07-19) #

    Insightful. I've been thinking about the past and reflecting on past experiences recently. Your post here reminds me of studies on memories and that they are not always accurate when recalled.
    I've questioned the word truth. Not that it is intentionally suspect but when we recall a memory, your prospective at a a given point in time, what state you were in emotionally, your age or whats going on in your life then etc..Certain details within that moment may not be there. We often don't think about that and assume what was filled in.
    Thanks for sharing your insight!

  97. Al Blatter (2023-07-19) #

    A great story indeed! Tho I've nothing as crucial (that I know of as of now) to "compare" with at the moment, it does allow for re-examination of my own life's history. Thanks Derek! You're a gem & spot-ON as always!

  98. john (2023-07-19) #

    how did you know i needed this at this exact moment.

  99. Madalyn (2023-07-20) #

    Wow. Amazing story.

  100. CHRISTOPHER HALL (2023-07-20) #

    Beautiful story Derek, thanks for sharing. My mind has often manufactured evidence of the past. I began a formal mindfulness practice led by Sam Harris a few years back that has given me some great tools to become aware when questionable thoughts arise about an experience.

  101. Nico (2023-07-20) #

    It’s amazing that an event that took place so quickly and so long long ago, could effect so many people over such a long period of time. In this case, was clearly misunderstood and/or interpreted. In the process it caused a lot of hurt all around. How many of us carry a similar memory which may or may not be true? As much as reflection and memories are so important to us, perhaps living in the moment has even more benefits than we can imagine. Thanks Derek.

  102. NAFEEZA AHMED (2023-07-20) #

    after reading this story , i want to go talk to that person who is waiting for me to say sorry of mistakes he never did , i only heard and left him

  103. Christine (2023-07-20) #

    Just today I was talking to a friend about the life lessons we want to teach our kids. This story will definitely be added to the list of lessons!
    Thank you!

  104. Yasmin (2023-07-20) #

    A beautifully & painfully sharp way to realise this truth about life. I often wish we didn't need these experiences but it seems that some learning comes the hard way.

    Have you read Ted Chiang's "Exhalation" collection? One story - The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling - is on this same topic. I think you'd enjoy it.

  105. Clarke (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing this Derek. Your story is very inspiring.

  106. Jt Oaks (2023-07-20) #

    All of written history is false, Mr. Tomlinson? Does that include your written statement on 7-19-23? If it is impossible to capture truth, why should we believe you?

  107. J M (2023-07-20) #

    Many people with childhood trauma will find this helpful.

    Theres empowerment in being able to change mental trajectory.

  108. Brett (2023-07-20) #

    Weird how I babe just been listening to "How to Live" and the last thing spoken about was reinventing yourself and not being dictated by the past.

    Wow I wish this is something everyone on the planet was required to learn.

  109. carol (2023-07-20) #

    "You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by. And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a goodbye." - Crosby Stills, Nash & Young.

  110. Valia (2023-07-20) #

    Hi Derek,

    1. One thing I'd like to learn is Bayesian statistics. My (faulty) interpretation would be that it mathematically describes, what happens, when belief influences the outcomes.
    Probably this topic could add a few pieces to the puzzle.

    What brought me to this thought: is it right, that in the next few years you were a more accurate driver than before?

    2. History is not probably true at all, because more powerful people seem to order it written the way they like (probably happened throughout history very often).
    And probably the same way it is in our heads: the dominant voice in your head interprets everything. Kinder dominant voice -> better life.

    3. Math teachers from secondary school and my own mom made me believe, that I was an idiot in mathematics. But over the years I've discovered, that it heavily influenced my activities: I didn't do math, because, once in front of the papers, I had these voices in my head saying "nono she can't do this". And they were becoming louder after mistakes - and making mistakes and fixing them is a normal path in math.
    So they've made it a road of pain for me.
    Nowadays I'm an adult and can decide for myself, that math is a fascinating subject and they didn't know a thing about it in the first place :-)

    4. Sorry for a wall of text. Hope you're well.

  111. Elle (2023-07-20) #

    Wow this is so powerful. Beautifully written. I'm feeling very reflective.

  112. Hoang (2023-07-20) #

    This post reminds me so much on the past that we are stuck in and carry it along with the events, and labels that we experience or be assigned until we learn it the hard way. I guess nothing is easy, isn’t it.

    How much time and energy we spend for those.
    Just to realize most are not " " as we think they are.
    To stop or to go, it is us to shape our worlds.

  113. Ziyue Wang (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing. This is beautiful :)

  114. Victoria (2023-07-20) #

    As always, exactly what I needed to read in the exact right moment

  115. Lacy (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing this story, I was moved by it. Thank you

  116. Maggie (2023-07-20) #

    While I appreciate the profound nature of your story, I can’t agree with your statement, "It’s never too late to change a story." For example, how do you change the story of your child dying in a tragic accident, or from a horrible illness? I think the most you can hope for in those situations is that the grief, in some unfathomable way, will ease over time. But is that changing the story?

  117. Dhiraj (2023-07-20) #

    So well put,really insightful. Thanks for sharing. Keep writing!

  118. Randyl (2023-07-20) #

    Hello Derek,

    You are correct, I like your article!
    It is interesting and makes you think, or maybe "ponder" is a better word.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I am ready for your next book.

  119. Bill Dooley (2023-07-20) #

    That was truly a beautiful insightful story! Let me know when your book comes out.

  120. Alex (2023-07-20) #

    A very well written. A big truth.
    An interesting thing is most people select automaticly the memories, forgetting the negative ones. But there ere some who have a negative selection. Very hard for them and for the people around them.

  121. Steve (2023-07-20) #

    Excellent work
    I really enjoy your style. This has my attention

  122. Howard (2023-07-20) #

    Beautiful touching story. Wow, even what we see is an interpretation, wow, just thinking about what you were told is so amazing. Incredible post, thanks Derek!

  123. Royce (2023-07-20) #

    Short and to the point. Something I need to practice more. Not focusing too much on the past and making stories for what I feel happened. Still have time to write my own history.
    Thank you.

  124. Mariyam Shamshidova (2023-07-20) #

    Wow! So many crazy stories in your life!
    This reminds me of the "Radical Forgiveness" book I came across recently.
    It frames every circumstance and issue as an opportunity for healing for both sides. Here is a quote from it that I really liked:

    "Through relationshi we grow and learn. Through relationship we heal and are returned to wholeness and truth. We need others to mirror our misperceptions and our projections and to help us bring repressed material to consciousness for healing."

    It seems that this story is a beautiful example of how that accident was an opportunity for healing for both of you.

    Cheers from Tashkent!

  125. Harish (2023-07-20) #

    Wow!Like the double-than you moments, this one is a double-sorry moment! Would have been great to read about how you felt after you left her house.

  126. Jimmy (2023-07-20) #

    I love this. I was given the start of my redundancy notice today at a job I have worked at and loved for seven years. ‘Restructuring’ ‘Role disestablished’ etc. etc. I immediately looked backwards, time and effort out in, my identity wrapped up in the role etc. etc. then I just clocked this, fairly randomly and it is exactly what I need to hear today. Thank you Derek.

  127. Amit Suri (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks for sharing! Many of us would hide our follies because it makes us look like fools. I had an accident on a highway when I slept at the wheel. My two kids, aged 8 and 11, were in the car with me. If we could be more open about what went wrong, we can help others to not repeat the same mistakes. Here is what happened that day -

  128. Bliss (2023-07-20) #

    First of all, I love how vulnerable and brave you are. Second, I am grateful to you for compiling this story, that brings so much understanding and clarity to "let go" of the past. Life is just interpretation, isn’t it?!

    You’re one of the best parts of this world!
    Thank you.


  129. Christine Cochran (2023-07-20) #

    Holy shiznit! Amazing! / I first heard that in a Kate Bush song: "Don't ever think that you can't change the past and the future" (Love and Anger)

  130. Japan Vora (2023-07-20) #


    Your article artfully illustrates the fallacy of relying solely on the past as a source of absolute truth. By highlighting the subjective nature of interpretations, you've effectively conveyed the importance of scrutinizing historical narratives. A thought-provoking piece that challenges readers to reconsider their perception of the past.

    Great work!

  131. Max (2023-07-20) #

    Such a wonderful story.

  132. Michael Vernon (2023-07-20) #

    Wow, that's a good one Derek because it made me also think about some of those "things" that happened - at least how I thought they happened!
    Thank you

  133. Miha (2023-07-20) #

    Beautiful, thank you :)

  134. Conrad Deas (2023-07-20) #

    I found out my cousin was murdered the night before. I walked out of my mom’s room in our home in Charleston, SC - not fully understanding what I was experiencing.

    Later that day - I was at the filming of the movie Drumline at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

    But I didn’t travel hundreds of miles that day.

    It took me 19 years to realize I made up the memory of walking out of my mom’s room in SC. I lived in GA when I found out my cousin was murdered. But still to this day, the movie in my mind is me finding out in SC.

    It taught me to question my "made up memories" and "poisoned perspectives".

  135. Lee Coxon (2023-07-20) #

    I don’t even know how much of my life I have lived in ‘Memory’ And this rings so true Mr Derek. It’s all make believe. Well the past is. It’s just a guide. Let’s actually’Live’ Hope you’re doing Awesome!!!

  136. Alexandra (2023-07-20) #

    Great story. And also great comments from readers :) So, if history is just a story, how we can see between lines.
    Thanks for sharing

  137. Michael (2023-07-20) #

    Almost made me cry.
    Thank you.

  138. Layo (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing this story. Aiming a laser at the moon is a beautiful metaphor

  139. Ryan Makhani (2023-07-20) #

    Wow! Love this story. It demonstrates that we can learn from our past experiences, forgive ourselves and much more by reframing the past.

  140. Andrew (2023-07-20) #

    Can’t imagine what you had been going through. It mus have been such a great relief for you to hear that.

    Great story with a strong message.

  141. panos (2023-07-20) #

    Excellent observation and article
    No past, no trauma..we are not our past nor our interpretations of it.
    Past and trauma is merely an interpretation and it is changeable

  142. sulo (2023-07-20) #

    But we also have to keep in mind that some interpretations are better and more true than others. The past is real and objective but our interpretation and understanding of it will be always fallible.

  143. Anjani (2023-07-20) #

    So true and the stories we tell ourselves are really just past perceptions!!

  144. Laura Creamer (2023-07-20) #

    Diving into my old, difficult stories right now. I believe some could use a rewrite, and I am imagining how freeing that might be. Thank you for the perspective.

  145. Sudhir (2023-07-20) #

    "It's never too late to change a story"
    Pondering over it. So many layers. Brilliant!

  146. Mateo (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing! We can always recreate/edit our stories about the past, it usually helps to share them to get a second/third perspective. Keep the parts that serve you and ignore/edit those that hold you down.
    I love this story, I will share it.

  147. Richard (2023-07-20) #

    What a pity you didn't go and see her sooner!

  148. Juraj (2023-07-20) #

    That is a great story Derek, thanks for sharing.

  149. Warren Whitlock (2023-07-20) #

    My favorite story in quite some time.

    I’m a person that lives inside the moment with all thoughts ti the future but just realized how often I feel constrained by my past.

    I thought I did not. I’m rewriting that and moving forward.

    Thank you.

  150. Bruce (2023-07-20) #

    Brilliant! Thanks, Derek, for sharing it.This is something to be pulled out and used over and over, as situations occur. Another one is just assume that everyone is your brother or sister, and when they do something that pisses you off, it's really just your brother or sister doing something stupid. Takes away a lot of internal anger.

  151. John Tussey (2023-07-20) #

    Great story Derek!

  152. Rahul (2023-07-20) #


    Love the prespective

  153. June (2023-07-20) #

    What an awesome article, Derek. Thank you.

  154. Rupert (2023-07-20) #

    Amazing story & insight

  155. sherlie matthews (2023-07-20) #

    Derek! Thanks for that. I'm so happy that my past IS my past! If I had to do it all over again...I wouldn't change a thing! Decisions that I thought I should have made, but didn't, have proven to be absolute blessing's...etc, etc, etc!!!!

  156. Moira (2023-07-20) #

    Great reminder thanks you posting

  157. Randy Robbins (2023-07-20) #

    I have had moments like this. It is why eye witness testimony is such poor evidence in court. Our memories are faulty just like we all are. This is a valuable story and I think a lot of people need to hear this, especially given the current societal climate.

  158. Don (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing this story and your message. Very Powerful❤️
    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Everything is perception and interpretation. Such a freeing realization. Everything is how I choose it to be. If I am conscious to choose how I want to see (perceive) the world, then that is what I get to see.

  159. Paul Claireaux (2023-07-20) #

    Wonderful story.

    As I guess you know, there's lots of evidence about this, and how our brains only pick up a fraction of events, and then create stories to make sense of them.

    Anil Seth says we're all hallucinating all day long, and it's only when we compare our hallucinations, and find they're the same, that we call that 'The Truth'

    Glad you met her, and you *both* found out you were wrong.

  160. Paul (2023-07-20) #

    My releentless crusade to calm anxieties will never tire of reading stories like this. It's a daily attrition to not lament a past or fret a future. Love the laser pointer analogy. Thanks Derek. PW

  161. Stanislaw (2023-07-20) #


  162. Prabu Rajasekaran (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, this is the ultimate understanding of forgiveness. Thank you for writing this article.

  163. Giles (2023-07-20) #

    As per your usual, your thoughts are refreshing and should be taught in school. Especially to all those who are trapped in their own cages.
    Man, I have listened to Tim Ferris's latest podcast with you already three times now....Timeless.
    Please don't stop.
    (oh, and THANK YOU!)

  164. Jon (2023-07-20) #

    Wow, that opening paragraph… just did not know where that was going. A powerful story, thank you.

    Also, think this could be a chapter in its own right!
    "Aim a laser pointer at the moon, then move your hand the tiniest bit, and it’ll move a thousand miles at the other end."

  165. Claire (2023-07-20) #

    God I love you Derek. Incredible story, thank you for sharing.

  166. Ceit (2023-07-20) #

    This morning I opened my mail and this was the right mail at the right moment - call it serendipity. It has helped me to look differently at a few difficult, life-changing family situations that I have been made the unwilling victim of in the last 3 years - they say things come in threes and they certainly have in my case. I look forward to buying your book Derek because this excerpt has just hit the nail on the head.

  167. Til (2023-07-20) #

    This is really moving, Derek. Thanks for sharing this.


  168. Hans (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks Derek. That was soothing - good to remember when in a bad situation.

  169. Brant (2023-07-20) #

    This is an inspiring message wonderfully told.

  170. Mauro Re Garbagnati (2023-07-20) #

    An intimate and very gracious thing to share, thank you Derek

  171. Nick (2023-07-20) #

    I *love* this. And it’s true that there is no one single ‘fixed’ account of anything. But I disagree about your ratios! After all, your pain was caused in large part by *incorrect facts*. The fact that she was culpable too, the fact that she did not sctually have a spinal injury. The fact that you had not ruined her life. Your burden was largely because on misinformation, not simply ‘the story you told yourself’.

  172. Veronica (2023-07-20) #

    Always 3 sides to a story. How you saw it, how others saw it and what actually happened.

  173. Vikram (2023-07-20) #

    This is such an amazing story, our minds are horrible constructing the past and the future.

  174. Moisés (2023-07-20) #

    It is true that memory is imperfect. It is true that misunderstanding upon misunderstanding can lead onto a misconception of facts. Besides, our own biases and prejudices can play a major role. However, we must be extremely careful when we say things like 2you can change history". They did so in Orwell's "1984". Some past and present political leaders are trying to do so too. There may be nuances or new pieces of information that shed light on to some facts. But history must be respected or changed through factual documentation.
    Other than that, the experience you share is exemplifying from many good points of view. :)

  175. Ron (2023-07-20) #

    This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing

  176. Alex (2023-07-20) #

    Fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

  177. Rachel Walker 'Trio' (2023-07-20) #

    Oh! I like this story Derek! How wonderful the last chapter....! and yet, that is the point isn't it, love is a verb, and without that effort on your part, that conviction that you followed, the last chapter would have had such a different ending. Such a sad one, for all involved, and Yet, when you acted on Love, well, yes, then that Does change the story...So beautiful!

  178. Luisa (2023-07-20) #

    My takeaway from this is that people should talk to each other, not that history is not true.

    When you're carrying such heavy feelings of shame and regret (which most people inevitably would if they were told that they had ruined someone else's life), ask yourself where it comes from and whether you can resolve it, for example by talking to the person who was involved in whatever caused these feelings.

    Yes, we tend to overinterpret/polish/dramatise what happens to us, but completely denying any relevance of history or our emotional response to it is doing the same, except now you're approaching the middle path from the opposite side. And while emotions are not necessarily "true" in terms of factual reality, they're certainly valid and should be worked through.

  179. Stevie C (2023-07-20) #

    What an utterly double-espresso-full punch of a tale you just shared, Sivers! Thank you for that not-so-little story.

  180. Charu (2023-07-20) #

    Made me look! Thank you!

  181. Apostol (2023-07-20) #

    Yes! That’s a very important insight!

    Also - each person that experiences an event makes it into a story in a slightly different manner - they build a different story from the same event/s. So it’s all constructed. Nothing is true (:

  182. Abhinav (2023-07-20) #

    This is really thought-provoking. We keep thinking about the past but often forget that it cannot be changed now. All we can do is to think about near future.

  183. Gaurav (2023-07-20) #

    Thelens of your perspective really impacts how you view yourself and the world, thanks!

  184. James (2023-07-20) #

    Just shows that guilt can have a positive effect, but too much is a burden. Good that you reached out and bought yourselves both some solace. :)

  185. Tobi (2023-07-20) #

    good stuff...

  186. Seb (2023-07-20) #

    beautiful, thank you for sharing, Derek.

  187. Robin Morris (2023-07-20) #

    Awesome Derek - loved it...!

  188. Sue (2023-07-20) #

    Thankyou for this. It’s a dramatic example of getting it wrong. Our perspectives are so limited but we don’t realise it. We draw the wrong conclusions. We fill in gaps and make assumptions in the quest for certainty. Life is more open and fluid than we think- it’s very liberating to remember this. So looking forward to the book!! - sue xx

  189. Matt (2023-07-20) #

    Yeah! You got me mate - love it. I'll never "believe" in that fantasy of the past again. Ever.

  190. Greg T (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks for sharing Derek!

  191. Cheryl (2023-07-20) #

    Love, this, Derek. THank you for sharing, and thanks for the encouragement!

  192. Dennis (2023-07-20) #

    I needed this today. Perfect start to my 5am commute. Thanks Derek.

  193. Angel B (2023-07-20) #

    Damn that was a short powerful story! Thanks for sharing Derek! You have a skill to view the world and things from a different perspective!

  194. David (2023-07-20) #

    What a brave thing to revisit that memory and human. For it to unfurl in the way it did makes such a beautiful story. However you were prepared for a different outcome and went anyway. Even if the outcome was different, I feel apologising and putting a human face to the character in the stories in your mind is helpful. Forgiveness or not it allows you to stop carrying the burden (so heavy with doubt and unknowns) and live on.

  195. Vincent (2023-07-20) #

    Memory is a useful tool. If it’s negative, declaring it false is beneficial. If it’s positive, then continue to let it be true.

  196. Dese (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you so much

  197. Anthony J Meccariello (2023-07-20) #

    A wonderful lesson. Many things are lies. Moving forward, with good conscience is the only truth. Be well!

  198. Roger (2023-07-20) #

    I loved the wisdom of this story. Did this really happen to you?

  199. Tom (2023-07-20) #


    OMG! Perfect timing!

    Six months ago I caused a crash due to a medical condition and stopped driving, a rude change to my lifestyle.

    Recurring moments of guilt and regret have been overwhelming.

    Fortunately the other driver was not injured according to the medics on the scene.

    The support of my daughter and her family have kept me going through these tough times and helped put put the past away.

  200. Ronel (2023-07-20) #

    Can't wait to read that new book.

  201. Jim (2023-07-20) #

    Great story, I love how efficient you are with your words! Nothing extra, nothing missing. Exactly what is needed to get the point across.

  202. Vidar (2023-07-20) #


  203. Steven (2023-07-20) #

    I absolutely loved reading this story. Thank you for sharing it Derek.

  204. Pete (2023-07-20) #

    Hello Derek,
    It's alaways good to hear from you as you always have something interesting to tell or say.
    This is a wonderful story with a lot of love emotion and consideration on both parties. It's true that time alters our memories and gets a little cloudy changing the images we hold. How you must have tormented yourself? but glad it turned out well for both of you.
    Thank you for sharing.

  205. Yuchuan (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks for sharing this story. What i really like about this is the courage you had to find her and it creates an opportunity for both of you to share something probably never been shared with others.

    It got me thinking we actually the capability to change the history as we live to create our own. Good or bad.

    Have a lovely day

  206. Brinda Koushik (2023-07-20) #

    We are known to complicate, no overcomplicate stuff. And feeling guilty is part of that. We play victims of the past. Fully knowing that it won't help. But that's what led you to go back to that person and luckily it wasn't not as bad as you expected.

    But sometimes the person about whom we are guilty is no more. And that adds to the agony. But it is possible to forgive yourself and rebuild your shattered mind and body.

    I am proof.

  207. Radi (2023-07-20) #

    really needed to see this today. Thanks Derek!

  208. Robb (2023-07-20) #

    WOW! What a revelation after all those years-- And to think that you carried that burden for so many years!

    Sometimes family histories are repeated inaccurately and passed on to each generation in succession.

    At least today with the advent of the Internet, certain stories can be researched and possibly verified, but even those sometimes can be trusted.

    Past myths and misunderstandings can sometimes only be put to rest by going to the source--

    As always, Derek-- Thanks for sharing.

  209. Flo (2023-07-20) #

    This is a very moving story, thanks for sharing Derek! Whilst also telling us a great life lesson or two.

  210. Nick Bell (2023-07-20) #

    Wonderful story. Huge relief!

    And I would add that some people have done terrible things like murdering or torturing someone and they desperately need redemption and forgiveness. They may not have the resources or insight to change the history they experience.

  211. Sean Tierney (2023-07-20) #

    As always spot on Derek. We walk around with such constructed baggage (both past and future). Beautiful story to illustrate. Glad you found the woman and had the breakthrough for both people's sakes. thx for sharing.

  212. Sogol (2023-07-20) #

    It's crazy to think about this in terms of the History of a country. As you wrote, the factual events are such a small part of the reality and the rest is interpretations or worse, conscious misrepresentation of events to mislead a whole nation and generations to come. Incredible story, as always beautifully written. Thanks Derek.

  213. Michele Archer (2023-07-20) #

    A great post & reminder of the opportunity which we are presented with each and every day.
    To create our future, based not on the past but what how we choose to move forward based on what we see it to be now.
    Thank you for sharing and the reminder that there are always different perspectives on any given situation.
    Looking forward to hearing more about the new book.

  214. John D. Laskowski (2023-07-20) #

    That is a poignant story that has no bounds. To imagine that you carried that guilt for all those years - wow ! Fate, chance and circumstance are rulers of our life.

  215. Arnaldo Neto (2023-07-20) #

    Amazing and so true! Can't wait for the next book ; ) Thanks for sharing!

  216. Terri (2023-07-20) #

    A Dangerous, Orwellian piece of writing

    Derek - I think I get where you are coming from but I would seriously urge you to edit this piece. I will go so far as to say that it is dangerous.

    The story you told shows you did not have all the facts of the case and had suffered because of it.I’m glad you had the courage to go and talk to your "victim" and be relieved of the burden. What happened happened. It was an immutable, true event. You did not have the full picture. The picture was not false.You just didn’t see all of it.

    "The Past Is Not True" could maybe be changed to something like "Beware of false memories!" When drawing conclusions about a past incident make sure you have all the facts! or: REFRAME THE PAST.

    Just because we are ignorant of history does not mean it doesn’t exist or that something didn’t happen.

    "History is not true. You can change history. The actual factual events are such a small part of the story. Everything else is interpretation. "

    This is false. You can’t change history. Factual events are very important.
    INTERPRETATION is up to the individual and it is true that we can live with the shame of an incident which is out of all proportion to what happened and re-examining our interpretation can be immensely useful and liberating.

    I felt moved to write because apart from a few comments, the majority of commentators seem to embrace the idea that you can just dismiss facts and replace them with "alternative facts". That is frightening. I have heard people tell me that "The Holocaust did not happen and that it was simply filmed in Hollywood which is run by the Jews". I have literally heard people assert that to my face when I personally knew people who were there.

    Please consider editing this - in these times especially we need to strive for truth (however it may be consequently interpreted).

    Best wishes

  217. Steve Hill (2023-07-20) #


  218. Shane Carberry (2023-07-20) #

    God damn man that's a powerful story. Jeez. Thanks for sharing and safe to say it's hit home! Hope all is well!

  219. Tudor (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you very much for this, Derek. Exactly what I needed right now :)

  220. Martha (2023-07-20) #

    I missed reading you. Thank you for this drop of realistic and practical optimism. When do you come to Europe?

  221. Sharon (2023-07-20) #

    What a joy to be relieved of such a huge burden of guilt. Have you thought about how that guilt may have shaped your life for the time that you bore it? Maybe it motivated you to accomplish something significant.

  222. Thais (2023-07-20) #

    Dear Derek,

    First of all, I’m so sorry to hear that you were carrying this huge load with you for so long. And then I would like to thank you for having found the woman and for having shared this powerful story with me!

    It’s liberating and so insightful. It reminds me of an episode of The armchair expert where (I think) Eagleman was making exactly thisbpoint on how we change the past everything we retell or recall a memory. It’s like we’re continuously changing it, so you’re right, we need to understand that they’re in fact just stories!

    Keep up the work, can’t wait for your next book!

    Greetings from a hooooot Paris,

  223. Jane (2023-07-20) #

    Wow! I can’t imagine just how deeply the impact of this false story hit you! Amazing!

    I love this revelation about the past we create in our minds! I’m sure we all have similar misinterpretations of events that have thrown curve balls into our future! (I have had my own made known to me at times as well). Definitely time to reflect and then move on.

    Thanks for sharing this today!

    Best wishes,

  224. Andrew (2023-07-20) #

    That was awesome!

  225. Tim (2023-07-20) #

    Always love to hear your thoughts. I really identify with this one. Thank you!

  226. Jan (2023-07-20) #

    emotional and made me think. thx.

  227. John (2023-07-20) #

    Wow! Wonderful story and a very interesting point of view. Thanks so much for sharing this Derek. Very helpful in navigating our experiences here. Best to you and yours’!

  228. CB (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you Derek for sharing this. I actually teared up a bit, its a beautiful story. So glad you went to find her afterwards.

    I wonder how many other people's lives would be radically changed if they also did this.

    Thank you for doing your work Derek :)

  229. Oguching (2023-07-20) #

    Guilt is a serious weight to carry about. It's so great that you were both gracious to each other after all these years.

    Thanks for these words. We indeed can change our stories.

  230. Hitender (2023-07-20) #

    Ahh., thank you for this post Derek... ! Was much needed !

  231. Nick Ellis (2023-07-20) #

    Absolutely FANTASTIC!

  232. Colin (2023-07-20) #

    Amazing story, but only one perspective.

    The truth is out there. Subjective "truth" is vapor. Objective truth can't be wiped away with a new perspective or by changing a story.

    Even in the mystic East, when you step into the street, it is you or the bus, not both and.

    Are semantics fun ;)

  233. Gerard (2023-07-20) #

    Poignant and so true.

  234. Frank Tuma (2023-07-20) #

    Every thing you said is so true and it does seem
    to last forever.
    That's is displayed in Courts.
    Truth versus Facts. Truths are in our heads but they are seldom correct. In Court we try to find out what is Fact.

  235. Dominic D. (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks, Derek. I was talking with someone the other day about memories - and how unreliable they are. Or rather, the way we recall memories often represents more how we feel now and less about what happened then. For instance, the manner in which one might recall times of turbulence. When one feels strong and capable, they may recall such times as periods of necessary growth and learning. Equally, if one feels beaten, the same recollections may serve as reasons for life's current woes and misfortunes. Memories - or, rather, the way we recall them - can tell us much about our current state of mind. In this sense, memories are like mirrors.

  236. Tom McDonald (2023-07-20) #

    great story and at a great time (for me), well done.

  237. Gil Polk (2023-07-20) #

    I love this article, Derek. And it's lovely that you both were able to not only make amends to one another but also forgive yourselves. I'm paraphrasing a Native American expression from my memory about "history" that you profoundly wrote about. "My people have come to trust memory over history. Memory, like fire, is immutable, while history serves only those who wish to control it."

  238. Steve (2023-07-20) #

    Derek - Perfect timing on this. Thank you for sharing it.

  239. John Coe (2023-07-20) #

    Isn’t it funny how perspectives vary both over time and among people? Where you felt remorse for her supposed paralysis, she felt bad for causing the accident and inspired to take better care of herself. What if she had been in a wheelchair and was a cranky old woman who cursed you for putting her there and coming there to taunt her? How would you have felt then? Regretful that you made the effort, or relieved for getting it off your mind? The laser story is a fascinating analogy relating to perspective and projection! It reminds me of going to a planetarium and trying to understand the vastness of the universe and how we really don’t understand what our minds observe much of the time!

  240. Wayne (2023-07-20) #

    I thought about this sort of phenom this a.m. before I opened your email! My thoughts went back to an old History teacher who used to challenge us with: "Do you know, what you know"?

  241. Jordan (2023-07-20) #

    A nice morsel of wisdom and reflection for my day. Thanks Derek

  242. Buddy (2023-07-20) #

    Absolutely fantastic! While maybe not as dramatic as your story, we all have multiple stories like this in our past that we’ve let torture us for years. Time to start rewriting. Thank you!

  243. Erich (2023-07-20) #

    Amen, brother. Love this.

  244. Josh (2023-07-20) #

    Yet the other side of this stance is that the past is everything. The past brings necessary perspective to the present. The problem with no past is seen in the spoiled king or billionaire's son. Without the past experiences of work, poverty, hunger, abuse, boredom, does one appreciate the abundance of the present? How does a country appreciate democracy without knowing of its autocratic or fascist past?
    I think having a past makes us stronger, grateful, resilient, and possibly more joyful.
    Or do we pick and choose our past like a menu?

  245. Santo D'Agostino (2023-07-20) #

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it.

  246. Jasmine Low (2023-07-20) #

    This is a short film. I am often guilty of writing the script of a scenario, replaying it, forgetting that it takes two and the outcome may not be as I had imagined in my head. It's not about me. Good on you for looking her up. Thanks for the reminder, Derek! xox

  247. Ethan (2023-07-20) #

    Terrific one, Derek

  248. sami (2023-07-20) #

    as usual, this is beyond amazing. The story is beautiful and the lesson speaks to me a lot.

  249. Ale (2023-07-20) #

    Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  250. John (2023-07-20) #

    For me, looking back, tends to produce second guessing and guilt anyway, so you’re account about what really happened with the car wreck is phenomenal. They’ll be a lot more healing in my thoughts as I look back now. Thank you.

  251. Franklinn (2023-07-20) #

    Hi Derek,

    So many nuggets here. This is summed up everything...

    "We think of the past like it’s a physical fact - like it’s real. But the past is what we call our memory and stories about it. Imperfect memories, and stories built on one interpretation of incomplete information. That’s "the past".

  252. Martin (2023-07-20) #

    So true we all have such a short time on this earth. We all need to focus more on today and cherish what is right in front of us.

    Thanks for this Derek!


  253. Chris W (2023-07-20) #

    That's a very touching story. Don't know if I'm just feeling nostalgic this morning or what, but I actually shed a few tears thinking about my own past. Really hit close to home, Derek.

  254. Franklin Liao (2023-07-20) #

    Hi Derek,

    So many nuggets in 1 minute! This summed it up for me...

    "We think of the past like it’s a physical fact - like it’s real. But the past is what we call our memory and stories about it. Imperfect memories, and stories built on one interpretation of incomplete information. That’s "the past".

    We do have the power to change history.

    Appreciate your writings!

  255. Lauren Passarelli (2023-07-20) #

    Amazing & spot on. Wow. Magnify the good.

  256. Francine (2023-07-20) #

    It's a great story and very well told. The impact of communication on emotions is essential.

  257. Yankai Wang (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you.

  258. Matthew Goh (2023-07-20) #

    It made me question the memories I've kept in my head. Fact, fiction or a bit of both? Nonetheless, I found it a pleasent curiosity that could avoid me from jumping into conclusions.Thank you :)

  259. Doubravszky Júlia (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing this story. I agree with you. Communication IS crucial in all aspects of our lives. Understanding the other person's poimt of view and background AND communicating ours. Not presuming theirs BEFORE at least asking them about it. (When it's possible.) Ask. Discuss. Listen. But if the two viewes are too far from each other, be ready just let it go and hold no guilt or anger about it. In case you keep feeling angry, admit it and cherish your feelings. Don't feel guilty about it. We all have the right to hold feelings. Whatever they are.

  260. Kevin (2023-07-20) #

    Really deep! Love reading your stuff man...

  261. Shabbir Lalji (2023-07-20) #

    thanking you for sharing

  262. Lisa Yves (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, I love this story! Makes me think about some of the things I regret in my past and whether or not they are really true as I remember them.
    Thank you for sharing this uplifting story.

  263. John Raymonds (2023-07-20) #

    The secret to world peace is a happy childhood, and it’s never too late for a happy childhood.

  264. Mark D Ransom (2023-07-20) #

    This is an interesting take on both the power of choice and the power of story. Shame and guilt are devastating self-destructive weapons. We may not be able to change past events, or current ones for that matter, but we can always change how we feel about them.

  265. Peter (2023-07-20) #

    What if this story isn't true? What if Derek made it up to make his point?

    If it is true, Derek is courageous, a hero gaining our admiration (even love from one reader!)

    If not, he is a manipulator, a cheat, a betrayer of his readers' hard earned trust.

    What is true, is that firstly, Derek is a great at stimulating discussion and reflection through his excellent writing.

    And secondly, as commented earlier, history is written more forcefully by those in power.

    Derek is more powerful than you. Why? Because he has your attention.

    Food for thought.

  266. Gregory (2023-07-20) #

    What a wonderful story. Really makes you think.

  267. Bob (2023-07-20) #

    As a former investigator, I learned quickly that teenagers and women are often ignored or abused by the police or other authorities. Your story underscores the damage done time and time again.

  268. Renée Corine (2023-07-20) #

    I think about this sort of thing all the time. Most recently when trying to think about my father and how things fell apart between us and then he suddenly died. I've never understood the whys of what happened but I try to make peace with things anyway. He'd want me to move forward even if it didnt feel like it when he was here.

    Basically - the past can shape you but don't let it turn you into stone.

  269. Cedryck L (2023-07-20) #

    I dont agree with the conclusion. The history is true. The interpretation is false. You can change your interpretation.

  270. Jordan (2023-07-20) #

    Hey, agnostic young adult here hailing from a religious family. I want to come forth with my beliefs to my parents, they are such a core part of me and make me who I am. But, they conflict with their beliefs. It's hard to communicate with them. They have stories and stories of interpreting things in their lives as divine intervention. I wish they understood what this article is talking about. Thank you for sharing.

  271. Chuck Dube (2023-07-20) #

    A poignant story. And your analogy about the laser pointer is a great visual.

  272. Everett (2023-07-20) #

    We must face the truth and we will be set free. We all have guilty past, sins that we must confess to God and He will free us from our guilt and shame by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus who died to pay for our sins.

  273. Janet (2023-07-20) #

    It's like those movies where an incident occurs and 9 different people all have different impressions, opinions, and memories of it. Depends on the angle, the mindset, the upbringing, etc what you'll THINK really happened. Gotta sift through them all. Regardless, shattering people's truths, at least what they believe to be true, can shake a person to their core.

  274. Maureen (2023-07-20) #

    This is really great. Thanks for sharing it.

  275. jote (2023-07-20) #

    Love this Derek, thanks for your honesty and openness :)x

  276. Richard Danjolell (2023-07-20) #

    A good story. A very personal one for you which makes the intrigue that much more appealing. I assume the pursuit of redemption is how we find the truth.

  277. Felipe (2023-07-20) #

    Great story, gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing.

  278. Rob (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing Derek! I can’t imagine the amount of anguish if you waited additional decades.

  279. Ben (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing. It’s an important eye opener.

  280. Marianne Kesler (2023-07-20) #

    This was a thoughtful and perceptive article Derek! Thank you for sharing!

  281. Kevin (2023-07-20) #

    That's a wonderful lesson in the power of not letting history write the present and being courageous enough to face people humbly. Thanks for living it and sharing it.

  282. Tess (2023-07-20) #

    It’s a lovely story. Now explain how people are killed as a result of war. They didn’t die? A bomb didnt the shelter? A young man with a brain injury survived a mass shooting at a university. It didn’t happen. Prisons filled with people of color who aren’t quilts. They really aren’t in prison? The history of slavery, please explain. Sex trade, extramarital affairs it’s all made up. In a perfect world all would have stories like you. But the world is far from perfect.

  283. Greg (2023-07-20) #

    Yes. Memory is a creative act. Memory and imagination are behaviors. Verbs, not nouns; we do them, don't have them. Troublesome when we all disagree on the past and attempt to agree on a future. Also, this story reminds me why revenge is another way to live in the past.

  284. Sandy (2023-07-20) #

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing your story, Derek.

  285. John G. (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, wow! I've been struggling against depressing thoughts related mostly to my past choices and experiences recently. Thanks for this gentle reminder that the story we tell ourselves is not the only one that can be told and that we can tell another.

  286. Jess (2023-07-20) #

    I think this is one of your most powerful posts yet. Who hasn't had something, (even something seemingly less significant than your personal example) that they've regretted over the years? I think most of us have, so it's easy to relate. Your story made me cry, in a good way. Thank you for sharing.

  287. Yehuda (2023-07-20) #

    Really hits home.

  288. Frank Tuma (2023-07-20) #

    So very true. What we have in our minds is called truth, but not all fact. That is why we go to Court to get not only the truth but the facts. The Judge and Jury decides if we have facts not just truths. Now we can then make judgments. These things happen all our lives.

  289. Raluca (2023-07-20) #

    I really like this story and the point it makes. Thank you for sharing.

  290. Anna (2023-07-20) #

    I wish all stories have the happy ending

  291. Dave swirsky (2023-07-20) #

    Hi Derek,
    In this day and age where some people make things up to suit themselves at the expense of others I think you could have elaborated more that facts are facts that can’t be changed but """and past feelings can sometimes be not reliable if you are looking back to a child hood trauma and not thru the lense of an integrated adult.

  292. Nick (2023-07-20) #

    memory moves in one direction, time another

  293. Barry Gray (2023-07-20) #

    Just the fact that neither of you was given the facts shows that "history" is a story that is told and may be very far from the truth.

  294. Manoel (2023-07-20) #

    Nossa breve passagem como seres tendo uma experiência material é para nos perdoarmos, perdoar a quem ferimos e todos juntos seguirmos em frente! Obrigado pelo belo texto!♥️

  295. Jonathan Sprout (2023-07-20) #

    Now I’M crying! Thank you for sharing this uplifting story.

  296. Mike (2023-07-20) #

    Powerful lesson! Thanks for sharing, Derek!

  297. Steve (2023-07-20) #

    Nice insight, thanks Derek. Reminds me of a song I wrote called "the past gets in the way."


  298. MARK (2023-07-20) #

    So much useful information and compassionate insight here. Thank you for caring. And sharing.

  299. Willie Buyson Villarama (2023-07-20) #

    There are always a minimum of 2 sides in a story.


  300. Michael Birnholz (2023-07-20) #

    You've done it again Derek. That was so incredibly moving and testament to the fact that completing the past might be the most important task we take on each day. Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts and stories.

  301. Steve Masur (2023-07-20) #

    I tell a lot of stories about my experiences. If I keep them brief, people love them. But just as you said, they are not true. They are my recollection, embellished to make a good story. I also tell a lot of stories inside my head, and these are often negative. I'm an imposter, not really doing what I am doing. I'm a clown, crying on the inside and putting on a fake happy face for the benefit of others and myself. Also not true. It turns out that the stuff you do is real, and the results are real. The stories other people tell about your are also fake, but if you always try to leave people in a better place than they were before, you can create a virtuous circle that will come back and help you.

  302. Bonnie (2023-07-20) #

    Most often we're living in our mind, somewhere in the past which can be nothing but a fabrication. How much precious time and life is wasted on negatively perceived thoughts or events that we carry around for decades stealing the very quality of the gift of now. Thank you for the reminder to re-evaluate some of those mind made stories that keep us handcuffed.

    Looking forward to reading more!

  303. Mike Twardowski (2023-07-20) #

    This motivated me so much - to not dwell on past events (as I remember them) - I used it as a topic for my team meeting with a great response.

  304. Peter (2023-07-20) #

    This is so practical and helpful.

  305. David (2023-07-20) #

    Bravo. Thank you, as always.

  306. Jared (2023-07-20) #

    Change the story in your mind and change the world.

  307. David Bergan (2023-07-20) #

    Hi Derek!

    Is the story true that you looked her up, knocked on her door, and had an hour of at-one-ment with her?

    I trust that it is, but what's to stop someone taking your moral ("History is not true. You can change history.") and inventing a tale like that boost their own image? I mean, narcissists do that all the time.

    Kind regards,

    "No man in the whole world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it."

  308. Cami (2023-07-20) #

    What a powerful, inspirational story, Derek. Thank you for sharing, and God bless you.

  309. megan (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks. To me, this relates to a recent Sonia Choquette post, linked above.

  310. Joseph Chan (2023-07-20) #

    Oh my, the story is so touching...I can even feel that regret in the first place because I have such memories too. You made me want to change history too.

    Thanks Derek

  311. Carolina (2023-07-20) #

    Profound! Love it <3

  312. Jack (2023-07-20) #

    Beautiful. I like the analogy of the laser pointer on the moon.

    That Miles Davis quote that "It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong." springs to mind too.

  313. elizabeth Cauthorn (2023-07-20) #

    Wow! I admired your bravery even if the outcome hadn't contained this beautiful ending.+

  314. adrienne (2023-07-20) #

    I’m glad to have read this today. Thank you.

  315. Michelle (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing. Additionally, I think the power of the small things-words chosen, quick or slow eye movement, a quick gesture…have power to seed a story or narrative that can lift or hinder. Either personally from within or by the minds of others (status, reputation).

  316. Kirby (2023-07-20) #

    What a great and inspiring story!
    Thank you for a great start to my day with giving me a new way to reframe the past.

  317. Anthony Vitale (2023-07-20) #

    Great story, Derek! May God continue to bless you!

  318. te (2023-07-20) #

    tetsas as
    asd asd

  319. Dan McCann (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for this Derek

  320. denice duff (2023-07-20) #

    Wow! So powerful. And nothing is more powerful a gift than the present of present time. Carrying that awful interpretation whether it was true or not held you back to a slight degreee with guilt and theres nothing useful about that self-imposed invalidation and denial of self. SO even the actual bad things of the past should carry less burden on us to move forward and be a better human to share more love and talent and inspiration going forward. You alwasy do that so well Derek. And this story was a magical reminder to the fact that a huge percentage of what we are guilty over, never really transpired that way!

  321. Vasja (2023-07-20) #

    I'm sorry but this is completely wrong. You didnt change any history. You just found out what really happened. Try to change this story again if it's so easy :)

    This is a typical survival bias or whatever..

  322. mary rose (2023-07-20) #

    More of this is needed in our world. THANKS!

  323. Sean Flaherty (2023-07-20) #

    Thanks Derek. A much needed perspective this morning.

  324. Georgy (2023-07-20) #

    Oh! Game Changer! Thank you - You've just "made my day" . . .
    (and a LOT MORE )


  325. joe (2023-07-20) #

    Wow, great story! The lesson I get from this is that if something weighs on you, search for the truth. That takes courage to walk up to that persons door.

  326. topher (2023-07-20) #

    This just opened up so many things for me. I now know how to begin healing.
    Thank you!

  327. Lucas Roy (2023-07-20) #

    Incredible message to open this morning. Thanks Derek!

  328. Sandman (2023-07-20) #

    thank you for sharing this! crisp and beautiful

  329. Suede (2023-07-20) #

    Amen, brother. Also, the power of forgiveness - from others and ourselves.

  330. Dodie Jacobi (2023-07-20) #

    LOVE this Derek.

    One of my wise friends asks about past events, "And what do you make this to mean?"

    The phrasing is awkward but precise, making clear that my interpretation of the implications of past events is just that: my interpretation. It's not a universal objective truth for atonement of any sort.

    Another built on this idea to ask, if you DO choose to assign meaning, why not presume it "means" what furthers what you want rather than deters from it?

    For example: you apply for but do not receive acceptance for a venture funding program. You can make that mean that you suck and the venture is doomed. Or you can make that mean that your funding will come from somewhere else, and now you're prepared with the documentation you need to pursue a mutual fit.

  331. Maureen Anderson (2023-07-20) #

    Oh, Derek. This is one of the most heartbreaking (and inspiring!) stories I've ever read. Do you mind if my daughter and I discuss it on our radio show/podcast sometime?

  332. Eduardo (2023-07-20) #

    We wish so many people would have the power to rewrite their past, and translate the negative experiences into positive learnings. Although many people wish they could do that, there is sometimes a roadblock that we just get stuck on the "imperfect past" memory. Thanks for sharing this story.

  333. Steven Dennis Petersen (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, you never stop amazing me. I wish we were close enough to have a visit now and then. I'm working on a new book and just had one of the greatest Poet Tree events I've ever had at the Palm Canyon Theater in Palm Springs. Keep writing brother, you're one of the best ever!! God Bless You Derek. Steve

  334. raad (2023-07-20) #

    love this - past distorts present.

  335. David (2023-07-20) #

    I enjoyed reading the piece and was certainly glad that both you and the other driver had gotten the stories wrong and that you could both update what had happened. With all that being true, I also wonder what there would be to say to someone who was involved in an accident that resulted in a fatality. Or what would this article be if you had found the woman in question to be unable to walk and deeply bitter about it and she kicked you out of her house. I find the title of you piece too general and too glib. It seems more accurate to say "The past is not always what we think" and use your story to encourage people to explore their difficult stories to find where they may be getting it wrong. Our interpretations are certainly malleable, but some events actually did happen.

  336. Lynette (2023-07-20) #

    This is an amazing story filled with lots of wisdom filled take aways. Looking forward to your next book!

  337. Micky (2023-07-20) #

    Such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing this. Since we are the past, or the accumulation of our experience and memories tied to those experiences, it's so refreshing once we realize that we can challenge those beliefs and see ourselves, and the world, without the screen of our experience filtering reality.

  338. Willard Shipp (2023-07-20) #

    Derek I love it! Keep up the good work. Soon I will be writing a life book about my 22 kids and 22 grandkids. I’m working on my nonprofit "Shipps Transitional Housing Inc.. My website is Donations are completely a tax write off. My personal number has never changed 323 321-9151, over the year I love seeing your growth!

  339. Bruno Barros (2023-07-20) #

    It's all about perspective, right?

  340. Mark (2023-07-20) #

    A definition of history,
    " A unlikely series of events that never happened,written about by men who weren't there."
    ( I cannot take credit for the definition)

  341. Derrick Yanford (2023-07-20) #

    Love this perspective and insight. Thanks for sharing!

  342. Jonathan (2023-07-20) #

    So good - thanks for the share. Oh, the narratives our monkey brains create! Past, present and future. Checking in on our emotions (especially negative ones) and identifying the thought that it is linked to...."Is it even true?", is just about the best question to ask ourselves on a regular basis.

  343. Wendy DeMos (2023-07-20) #

    Powerful .. ❤️

  344. Rayko (2023-07-20) #

    Inspiring!! Thank you for sharing

  345. KAM / Kamran Salehi (2023-07-20) #

    There is a hidden "gem" in this story. The gem is about confronting your fears. We may live for years and possibly our entire life in fear of something. But if we confront it, it is often not as scary as we thought it was. Thanks for sharing the story Derek.

  346. Jack (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, I loved this. So sorry you carried it for so many years. I have found similar (much less significant) cases of errors in my recall over the years.

    Thanks for your writing. I always find it very interesting and helpful.

    I hope you enjoy your day,


  347. Jack Perricone (2023-07-20) #

    I believe your willingness to apologize to the woman who you thought you damaged for life is key to your freedom from that horrible story/ memory. It is the act of reconciliation that allows us to move on. Thank yourself for doing that and I thank you for sharing this with us.

  348. Dr. Mickey Fitch-Collins (2023-07-20) #

    My wife and I are just about to have our second child. And we are listening to a few specific podcast channels to help in that parenting adventure. One of the podcasts we listen to...the practitioner always talks about how "two things can be true".

    The stories we tell ourselves, or our version of events--however revisionist history it is--is true. It is what we know to be true. The other person or people's perspective on what happen--it's true too.

    Your story....two things can be true. What is good to know is that burdens don't need to be carried in the way that we always assume (or punish ourselves with).

  349. Gretchen (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, l am so devoted to accuracy, these examples of conflicting "facts" are a bit of a shake-up, but l will give due consideration and also invite that from a dear friend of mine whose marriage is being destroyed by just such.
    Is there some way l can forward this to her? Thank you sharing.

  350. Randal L. (2023-07-20) #

    Dang! I've read about, investigated and used this point in working with others on their health over the years but this short story NAILS IT! As always...thanks Derek!

  351. Mary Ann (2023-07-20) #

    This is a stunning story. But it actually points to the importance of facts. You had the courage to confront this woman years later, and both of you were liberated by the truth.

    In a world these days filled with fake news, facts are more important than ever. When you say "the actual factual events are a small part of the story," I must respectfully disagree. There are no "versions" of the truth, just like the are no "alternative facts." It's the manipulation of truth that is so destructive, but as your story beautifully illustrates, the truth does indeed set us free, on both the micro and macro level.

  352. Nate (2023-07-20) #

    love this so much. such a cool perspective and lesson in reapproaching how we interpret the past.

  353. Donavon Hill (2023-07-20) #

    Great story...

  354. BurnG (2023-07-20) #

    What a beautiful story , thanks for sharing Derek! x

  355. Mike B (2023-07-20) #

    That's a good perspective on history vs. the present

  356. Susy Martian (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for being YOU! And thank you for sharing this story.

  357. pikesan (2023-07-20) #

    I don't always open your emails, but for some reason I opened this one. Thank you for this uplifting story. It was just what I needed.

  358. Joseph (2023-07-20) #

    I have been reading your emails, posts, and more for 2.5 decades and this may be one of my favorites. Thanks for the story and insight.

  359. Michael Colucci (2023-07-20) #

    You rock, Derek. Your insights have been a catalyst for me to revisit some of the stories of my past which have bothered me over the years. And I thank you for that. All the best to you and your son.

  360. Sonya Heller (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you old Friend,

    Timely and wise as always. As we grow older, our collected volumes of history increase and along with them the potential for undue stress. Your reminder that most stories are interpreted thru the lens of perspective, is a welcome thought and tonic for the psyche.

    My warmest regards,

  361. Colie Brice (Sea Are Bee) (2023-07-20) #


  362. Bruce Chenoweth (2023-07-20) #

    Brilliant, heartwarming, and noteworthy.
    Being on your ist is a blessing!

  363. Jeff Sass (2023-07-20) #

    Wow. The power of stories and thoughts all in one. The most powerful thing, for good and bad, is the power of our own thoughts. Control and direct your thoughts in the right way and you can accomplish anything, and be happy in the process.

    Both you and the lovely woman were victims of your own thoughts... for so many years. A great lesson/post. There's probably not a human alive that doesn't or hasn't fall victim to the power of their thoughts, directing and controlling their mood and attitude. Thanks for the reminder!

  364. Eric (2023-07-20) #

    lovely story, thank you. glad you two got closure. how many other stories are out there, miles off from the truth?

  365. Paul Bengs (2023-07-20) #

    This is a wonderful story. I was just listening to a podcast with Naval Ravikant where he said, "The past is a fiction". That stuck with me. And your story just illustrates this idea beautifully.

  366. Chris Haugen (2023-07-20) #

    Agree it is interesting how the truth shifts as our narrative shifts. And often I find that there are many truths, and they may appear contradictory, but the only conflict is trying to settle on one as absolute.

  367. Blake Cooper (2023-07-20) #

    Wow, it's hard for me to even imagine how transformative your meeting with that woman must have been for you (and probably for her too, I would imagine). Thank you for telling this story. I will certainly share and ponder this one as I'm sensing the ramifications in my own life will be many. For starters, I have sometimes wondered when my sister and I discuss our childhoods just how accurate our memories of decades-old events might be and, if our brother were still alive, how his memories might differ from mine or my sister's. Great stuff, Derek!

  368. Fred Carranti (2023-07-20) #

    Life can be strange, for a plethora of reasons, especially when others are involved.

  369. richard s. felisko (2023-07-20) #

    Nice ! yes, perception and beliefs can be a mutable thing, specially with time.
    Perhaps the lesson is "its not where you have been, its where you're going"

  370. Joe Ciccarone (2023-07-20) #

    Derek -

    This one is amazing.

    Thank you for sharing.


  371. Luciana Gallardo (2023-07-20) #

    This piece clicked with me on the note of personal experience. Miscommunication and missed nuance often surface when a chance presents itself to talk things out, even years later. I very much enjoy your thoughts and writings, there are always nuggets of enlightenment I find value in.

  372. Haha (2023-07-20) #

    Nice story bro

  373. Jon (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it.

  374. Satan (2023-07-20) #

    Hi Derek. Satan here.
    Wanr you to know that you're still going to hell for this.

    We'll meet again. Sadly, it looks like you still have many years ahed of you.
    But we will meet again.

    Well. I will be the last person you do meet anyway.

    See ya.

  375. Michael mish (2023-07-20) #

    Your most powerful writing to date...for me personally.

  376. Steve Payne (2023-07-20) #

    Now IS. Embrace it. The past isn't. Let it go. Peace be with you...

  377. Ankit Pramanik (2023-07-20) #

    First, I am sorry for the false burden you had to carry for years, and time wasted in guilt.
    Secondly, it reminds me of the famous quote (probably by Marcus Aurelius) "Everything we hear is an opinion not the fact, everything we see is a perspective not the truth".
    Thirdly, lesson to me: when in guilt/doubt, clear/check it out.

  378. Greg Brooks (2023-07-20) #

    Simply outstanding, and a reminder of why the Small Web delivers disproportionate insight and value vs. Big Internet.

  379. Jake (2023-07-20) #

    Isn't it interesting to think that you could have lived the rest of your ENTIRE life in unjustified remorse? Instead you took action: you sought this woman out, professed your perspective, and unveiled more of the truth from that horrible day. You both were rewarded with a taste of absolution from your undeserved guilt and--more importantly--a new friendship. Incredible.

    I'm grateful that both of you could walk (thankfully) away from that incident stronger, happier, and more vigilant than before.

    What other dark stories do we weave in our heads about the future or the past that never materialize? How much more happiness could we generate, if only we actively sought the truth?

    "Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune
    but do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness."
    -- Max Ehrmann, excerpt from Desiderata

  380. Lindseys'Linsey's (2023-07-20) #

    Actions as moves, as my motion. My choices fired, activated, inactive, not to be unless as my entire tested production you all as humans took over my electronics and time cumulative punch in of my life's on GOLD PRECIOUS SILVER PRECIOUS AND ALL METALS ARE PRECIOUS, YOU MADE FALSIFIED TICH COINS OF DECENTRALIZED, NONE OF DIFFERENTIATED AS SETS IN MANY EACH A SAID, LISTED NUMERICAL TALLY. NOT MONEY IN HUNDREDS OR TIME OR ANY ESSEQUENCIAL BY LEAST TO GREATEST IS QUANTUM

  381. Peter Kim (2023-07-20) #

    Such a beautiful story.... i needed this one today.... thank you Derek.

  382. Darren (2023-07-20) #

    I disagree proudly.
    You have just further pryed opened a window that despots are already trying to squeeze through.
    Please rethink and hone this idea further.
    I prescribe good intentions to your heart, but your conclusion is dangerously unrefined.

  383. Clint (2023-07-20) #

    Good One! The analogy of moving a laser light a tiny amount which causes the light on the moon to move a thousand miles. Really enjoy enlightened individuals who have been touched by a higher power and radiates recognizable insights into life.

    The aging composer who had 11 CD albums, three singles with CD Baby, during a much better time, under The Synthonic Orchestra, Band & Choir.


  384. Shelby Spear (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing how you alchemized this story in your life. Powerful. I'm passionate about changing our past by shifting our perspective and assigning new meaning. I call the process LOVE Alchemy and am writing a book on how I created a new reality for myself, including healing from seven health issues and counting as a byproduct. This after spending 34 years 'remembering my past' in a manner that caused deep suffering and almost tricked my ego and shadow into checking out early. Thankfully, I learned when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. (shout out to the late great Wayne Dyer)

    All is Mind. The Universe is mental. Perspective is everything.

    peace to you...always love your words

  385. Olga Vodin Finney (2023-07-20) #

    The storyteller heals the old wounds, making everything right. You have become a magiciaan with words, Derek Sivers

  386. c (2023-07-20) #

    oh! that we have do have the power to change our story is so true!!! I'm in the midst at this very moment of reshaping my understanding of a painful and misunderstood bit of my tale. it makes such a grand difference to be willing to look again, to allow myself to see that there could be another, equally-valid perspective on those events. to allow yourself, to forgive yourself for having been "wrong" -- what an incredible gift!

  387. DENNIS F. (2023-07-20) #

    As I once read awhile back, Ray Charles was known to have said "You can tell this or you can tell me that; but, once I hear you play, I will hear the truth." Yes, history does have its interpretations. Thanks for sharing your experience, Derek.

  388. Hana (2023-07-20) #

    Really beautiful story, thank you.

  389. Scott (2023-07-20) #

    This one hit home for something I have been working through relentlessly for almost 2 years. Thanks for sharing!

  390. Dave F. (2023-07-20) #

    Declaring history not to be true is a slippery slope that I'm not ready to get on. Adolf Hitler went to great lengths attempting to prove that accepted history was not true. He changed local history books to indicate Aryans were the master race and was subsequently proven dead wrong. People who never visited Nazi death camps have declared the Holocaust to be a fabrication, but overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including films and former president Dwight Eisenhower, recorded proof that the inhuman slaughter took place. A closer look at what you said regarding the accident shows you were at fault and that she should have been paying more attention, as well. The only thing that changed was the perspective of the observers, not the event itself. Learning from history should be a part of growing up. The outcome of the accident changed you and it changed her, ostensibly for the better. To be sure, there are definite fabrications regarding historical events. But you could say that about any event, and like Hitler's propaganda minister once said, "..if you say anything enough times, it becomes true", which is not the way I choose to live. I'm addicted to unadulterated truth, which requires time consuming contemplation.

  391. Sean (2023-07-20) #

    "Aim a laser pointer at the moon...." is such an wonderful analogy!

  392. Annie (2023-07-20) #

    Good shit. Timely. Made me think about a recent experience - - and this quote from a book I just finished reading:

    "Consciousness creates the past, not the other way around. Which, incidentally, was what Stephen Hawkings said, too: ‘The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.’"

    (Observer by Kress/Lanza)

  393. Tab Bartling (2023-07-20) #

    This tells me to always go to the person that you hurt (or the person who said something about you) and talk to that person. Any misunderstanding will be resolved. I'm sorry you lived with this for so long!

  394. Christine (2023-07-20) #

    OMG! This really got me. Thank you for writing it. There are so many things like this. Such a waste of our precious energy. Energy that I would so really want to use for the enhancement of life, not the drain of things gone by. Thank you for so succinctly bringing this to my attention. I'm inspired to keep clarifying in my own life.

  395. PK (2023-07-20) #

    This is so true, and touched my heart, thank you for sharing.

  396. Timothy Howard (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you so much. I needed to hear this, at this very moment.

  397. Jennipher Smith (2023-07-20) #

    As suspected, I loved the article. Best thing in my inbox:)

  398. Pete (2023-07-20) #

    This is wonderful, but what do you do when your present is always one Google search away from the past? We've become a society where incarceration is merely the first phase of a punishment that never ends.

    Armchair science tells me that every cell in my body is different from my younger, stupider self, but the trauma of it all invades every moment of my life. I find myself paralyzed, terrified and sleepwalking through the after.

  399. Caelan Huntress (2023-07-20) #

    Ooof. This hits me hard. Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

  400. jay (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you Derek.

  401. Chris Nelson (2023-07-20) #

    I don't know how you feel about this, but to me, it sounds like a miracle. No one got hurt and everyone learned something from the experience. You and her were both blessed by this occurrence. Great story!

  402. Tuukka (2023-07-20) #

    I'm just actively solving the problems that are created by imperfect memories and the feelings attached to them. They can take a toll. Thanks for the example, it was perfectly clear

  403. Carrie Lynn (2023-07-20) #

    Incredibly salient for such a profound point.

    We must audit our own his-story, and update that perception frequently. Living well with ever evolving perspective shifts, is vital.

    Truth is a living thing. This truth (as most are) was beautiful.

  404. Asbjørn (2023-07-20) #

    Thank you for sharing this! I applaud your courage to confront the past. And then to learn that it was not real must have felt good.

    I also carry such a memory. That my action, or rather inaction, eventually caused the death of my grandfather. When I was at the age of 20 I was visiting my parents, and my grandfather lived next door. This morning he slipped on the gras and broke his hip. Lying in my bed I thought I heard his cries for help but was to scared to react. Eventually a neighbour found him and alerted my parents. The following months (or was it years?) his health deteriorated and he eventually left us. Somehow I feel responsible for the whole chain of events that lead to his passing. Probably because I loved him so much.

    Your story could perhaps inspire me to tell my parents this, as they do not know. Or at least I will reflect on this and find comfort in that whatever I had done that day, nothing would have changed.

    Again, thanks!

  405. joy (2023-07-20) #

    thanks for sharing this story and I love your bravery in facing up to a reckless past to try to make things right. That act of courage released both of you in wonderful ways!

  406. Hilton (2023-07-20) #

    Powerful story. I need to think about how you’re defining "truth."

  407. Lizz Dimecurio (2023-07-20) #

    I have been thinking lately about the nature of time, such as the fact it is not linear but our perception of it is. Thank you for this, it fits in nicely with the thoughts percolating this week. I look forward to the book!

  408. James Brackin IV (2023-07-20) #

    Derek, I cannot wait for your next book to come out this kind of message is something we constantly need to be reminded of, rarely do we.

  409. Chris Gramlich (2023-07-20) #

    I sat there and passed your email multiple times today in my inbox thinking I don't have a spare second to read this even though I knew it wouldn't be long. Well, I read it and, as always, I can't thank you enough for writing it :) Now, I feel like I have all the time in the world to think about what matters.

  410. Michael Gardner (2023-07-20) #

    Hmmm... a little morsel of complexity. So, what is truth you seem to be asking and if it does not reside in the past what is the truth of the present? Is is, as some say, all relative? Relative to our state of mind, our time, our gender, our domicile? Yes and, of course, no. Schrödinger's cat? A moment, an event doesn't reveal its state of being, it's truth, until we interpret it? And like a good quantum entity does it always hide some part of itself? I think of Rashomon. The larger thought though is can our dismissal and reinterpretation of the past create a better now? Psychoanalysis would suggest it can and does. All this is a bit out of my cerebral pay grade but I do enjoy the ride... Thank you.

  411. Trent (2023-07-20) #

    What an incredible example of why we shouldn’t get trapped in the past. I can’t wait for the book!

  412. riz (2023-07-20) #

    We are never what anyone labelled us, someone told us, or what we told ourselves years ago.
    Easier said than done though!

    It’s a great piece and we need to remind ourselves of this every day.
    At 53 i have to work hard to try and shake off who i think i am.
    It’s hard to unblock those obstacle's. It stops me being the singer/songwriter/musician i think i could be.


  413. Mark Dombkins (2023-07-20) #

    Wow what a story Derek!

    This is the part that i'll be reflecting on for the next few days though... ooft:

    "Aim a laser pointer at the moon, then move your hand the tiniest bit, and it’ll move a thousand miles at the other end."

    Love your work,

  414. Scott (2023-07-20) #

    History. his-story. hi-story. bye-story.

  415. Daniel Cronauer (2023-07-20) #

    Derek. You are a fucking Wizard. You continue to blow my mind. I appreciate your perspective so much. Thanks for being weird (you).

  416. Fran (2023-07-20) #

    Hello there, Derek,

    Not many have the intuition or courage to seek the truth as you have, of wanting authentic closure to the accident that you thought you were totally responsible for. If you hadn't reached out to her, you would have lived believing you had crippled her for life. What a magnificent moment that must have been for you to see her walking! That certainly changes the story entirely! And not only that, hearing her words that exonerate you completely of full responsibility, her admission of what transpired from her actual lived experience, not anyone else's interpretation, surely was a relief to you no doubt.

    So, while someone said that you had crippled her for life, that someone didn't bother checking the facts of the case or in following it up, could that have been from your insurance company or hers, or a lawyer? I suppose that once you start digging for the truth you can peel the layers of it like an onion, & then we find there are others involved in creating the lie that you lived in for so many years. Sometimes the lie is systemic the deeper we dig for the truth.

    Be careful about saying the past is not true. There are some versions that are flat out false or half-truths to suit different inhumane agendas systemically. You might want to change that as a few others pointed out why. Yes, I read all the comments. Good discussion.

    Thank you for sharing your writing. Wishing you all the best!

  417. Steve (2023-07-20) #

    So true, so true. I believe most of life is made up of assumptions and misunderstandings. I see it all the time.

  418. atelics (2023-07-20) #

    but what if you went to the house and she was actually crippled? would that have made a difference?

  419. chris (2023-07-20) #

    this caught me at the right time, thanks derek

  420. Stella Black (2023-07-20) #

    There are so many possibilities. As we become more conscious, we realize that we have lived in a very 3D world. We are becoming more and more aware of the infinite perspectives that exist all around us. We merely have to open our eyes, hearts, and be willing to let go of the past. The Spirit grows when we experience pain. Your story was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  421. Jody cherniak (2023-07-20) #

    Stories like the one you shared remind me of the ones we all hold that affect us for life. I have some too. At 14 my first love and I sat on a trampoline and made out for the first time. He left my house and was hit by two cars driven by high schoolers racing on a two lane road. I was haunted by years of memories. Maybe those drivers have memories that haunt them too. We all are haunted by truth and fake stories. Which we live by makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing. Jody

  422. Sandra (2023-07-20) #

    How amazingly moving! And so true. Thx once again, Derek. This can also work the other way. Something/someone we remember as very good or heroic seems less than ordinary when revisited.

  423. jules (2023-07-20) #

    This story is so powerful. Thank you for the perspective shift today.

  424. Ken Randall (2023-07-21) #

    Nice the truth came out after all that time.

  425. Anonymous (2023-07-21) #

    At some point I was considering the end of my life but I wanted to apologize to various folks (ex-girlfriends mostly) and so I made an effort over a number of months to reach out to all of them and apologize. As it turned out, only one of them had any bad feelings and she was the one who ended that relationship and her bad feeling was that "I was the one she let get away." I regretted not working harder to reach out when she was in the right space to reconsider (which I suspected she'd get to eventually). We cried together about that and it was healing for us both. The others all said they hadn't been carrying any hard feelings about how things went down but thanked me for reaching out. My life didn't end then but it was a nice bit of cleansing ritual to have these conversations and realize that *I* was the only one carrying around this weight for the most part and I could set it down now.

  426. Nancy (2023-07-21) #

    18 years of having that grief in your body
    (I feel sad that you carried it so long)
    but you, very courageously, faced it
    and it made all the difference -
    and is a profound & valuable lesson for those who dare to reflect
    Thank you!

  427. Jeff Pike (2023-07-21) #

    Thank you very much for sharing this, Derek. Very beautiful, enlightening and thought provoking, and true also. Keep on doing what you do.

    Best Regards,
    Jeff Pike

  428. Farhan Achsani (2023-07-21) #

    Wow, what a beautiful story !

    Just two days ago I saw a misunderstanding by a family member in which the other party have no idea that resulted in a strained relationship to a whole unrelated people. Hopefully there will be a better resolution in the future for my case.

  429. Pk (2023-07-21) #

    Very nice narration about self consciousness Derek. You clearly said indirectly that feeling of I did this or I did that is not that true but what happened is true and your role in it is not as much as you think

  430. Bryan (2023-07-21) #

    Great story Derek,
    It’s so funny how we carry burdens and hold onto mistakes that weigh us down through all of our lifetime. So glad that you were able to connect with this woman and get rid of that wait.

  431. yagna (2023-07-21) #

    idea of apologizing is good

  432. Levi (2023-07-21) #

    This simple truth may save someone that has been not dealing with the past in the healthiest manner.

  433. Amita S. (2023-07-21) #

    I’m glad I read this today but I wish I had read this two years ago. I was going through something similar and it’s true, the past is not true. Your burden/ guilt can serve as the reassurance that you are not defined by your darkest thoughts. It is also your strength to knock on her door after 18 years :)

  434. Janine (2023-07-21) #

    I love this. Made me think of stories I’ve hung onto. I e ondered how much of it was what happened and how much of it was my emotions and stories around it. Thank you, Derek.

  435. Ann (2023-07-21) #

    Wow! I'm swept off by this article. First, it's also about when one doesn't care enough to find things out, and the other is omitting to solve the root cause of immense misery. This is a heavy one.

  436. Duane (2023-07-21) #

    Very true! I have been journaling on/off for a good part of my life, and when I pull out an old one, read something, and compare it to what I remember, I find that the memory is different from what I recorded at the time. Memory is selective and the story changes over time.

    I appreciate the email and am looking forward to the book!

  437. ericmcyyz (2023-07-21) #

    Thanks for sharing Derek! ❤️

  438. MM (2023-07-21) #

    Perfect timing... This is such a great ending note on the days that I experienced with my eyes this month and the month before ✨

  439. Renato (2023-07-21) #

    thanks for that Derek. keep rocking

  440. bianca de leon (2023-07-21) #

    I love your article. It gives me hope and clarity and purpose. Please keep writing.

  441. Stefan (2023-07-21) #

    Great story, thanks for sharing it.

  442. Monstalung (2023-07-21) #

    great post! I can relate, burden, and regret with my past.

  443. Robert (2023-07-21) #

    Holy crap, Derek! What an incredibly impactful, thought provoking story! Well done and thank you.

  444. Chiemi (2023-07-21) #

    Poignant & speaking such truth to the big picture - thanks so much for sharing, Derek

  445. Pamela (2023-07-21) #

    History is true according to each person's experience of it at the time. However, whether or not there are additional facts or another's view of it, we need to forgive our younger selves. Thank you for this story of your own history. Thoughtful.

  446. Rebecca Rush (2023-07-21) #

    Thank you for sharing great story .

  447. edvard (2023-07-21) #


  448. Tom Jackson (2023-07-21) #

    As always, the mind is engaged by your words, but the heart responds.

    The best that can be said is "I don't know," the rest is opinion.

  449. Gandolfo (2023-07-21) #

    Thank you so much for sending! What you conclude is absolutely true. So often our memories are imperfect. And often clouded by time, and other experiences, so we read things into them that were never there, or never intended by the actual events that occurred. Your thoughts are very insightful and I appreciate You sending them.

  450. DANIEL RONDEAU (2023-07-21) #

    So true! Thanks Derek. Love and hugs

  451. Steve (2023-07-21) #

    When I was 17, going home after surfing I rounded a blind corner way too fast. Directly ahead a tractor with a bat wing mowing attachment was mowing the shoulder taking up most of my lane.

    Opposite side and head on garbage truck closed the gap with no time for me to react. I aimed between them heard the truck horn and closed my eyes.

    Next memory was me opening my eyes. I was 5 minutes away parked on the road shoulder and no memory how I got there or even survived.

    1) guardian angels exist
    2) most teenage boys shouldn't be issued drivers licenses

    Thank you Derek great lesson

  452. Kyle (2023-07-21) #

    Loved it Derek! the past is imperfect at best and complete wrong some of the times. Thank you for this!

  453. Michael (2023-07-21) #

    Great story!! I really enjoyed this and love the outcome as well
    as the message!

  454. Jana (2023-07-21) #

    You can change your history. The actual factual events are such a small part of it. Everything else is perspective, open for re-interpretation. The past is never done.

    This statement touched me to my core.

  455. sean (2023-07-21) #

    wow. such a well written piece.
    may i share it if i give you credit?
    your loyal and devoted piper,