The Vow: The search of the self and for the self
"My theory is about moments, moments of impact. My theory is that these moments of impact, these flashes of high intensity that completely turn our lives upside down actually end up defining who we are. The thing is each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced with all the people we’ve ever known. And it’s these moments that become our history. Like our own personal greatest hits of memories that we play and replay in our minds over and over again." (The Vow, 2012)
Honey K. and I watched The Vow a few days ago. The movie was fine but something got me thinking about our identities as human beings. As a psychology student, the above quote should not be surprising at all because this is what I do with my clients most of the time. My client and I search for these moments in their lives that impact who they are and who they want to become in the future. It is often in this very process we come to reject, struggle or accept what define us.
In the movie, Paige woke up from a coma with severe memory loss. She forgets who she had been for the past 5 years and her husband, Leo. As Paige cannot recall her marriage life and her identity as an artist and vegetarian, Leo decides to let go of Paige ultimately to allow her to develop who she wants to be and be happy. Paradoxically, by letting go, Paige rediscovers her passion to art and falls in love again with Leo. This is basically the plot of the movie, not surprisingly.
The idea that one can discover the self on his own still remains puzzling to me. It contradicts with the soliloquy in the beginning, "The thing is each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced with all the people we’ve ever known. And it’s these moments that become our history." For me, the idea illustrates the illusion that we have a complete control over our own identities. We can pick and choose who we are and who we want to become. I guess we like to believe in this way because of beneffectance (the tendency to take credit for success while denying responsibility for failure). When an identity is formed, it might be considered to be an achievement by the self, especially during the phase of emerging adulthood when the search of identity/self become a developmental task. Consider how most people tell you about their journey to define themselves. They say, "I finally find out who I am." They rarely say, "These people help me to find out who I am." In a western and psychological perspective, it makes sense that human wants to take ownership of their self-enhancement. However, I do think our identities evolve from the sum total of every moment that we've ever experienced with all the significant people we've ever known.