On Sunday afternoons my wife practices her cello and I usually take a walk to my favorite downtown coffee shop to write. We live in the downtown district, so the walk is just a few blocks. Today I was nearly run over by a speeding car running a red light. The car was close enough for me to make perfect eye contact with the driver and ask him, in a raised voice, a question. The question was highlighted with an expletive. Unfortunately the car was making too much headway too quickly for the driver to answer my question within earshot. So my inquiry faded into the past, left behind in a swirl of turbulent air. The driver may have thought up an answer, or a retort, but it is left to me to manufacture his response based on a profile of him that I expediently constructed. I reached into the past and, step by step, in but a second or two, developed on the driver a life profile.
Given the amount of facial hair I determined that he was past high school age, although he may be making his way without a degree in hand. His little car was in need of much repair, reflecting his earning power, which can also be transferred to his buying power in terms of living arrangements, clothing, quality of alcoholic beverages, and attractiveness of girlfriends. My educated guess, the education I have in this matter resting on the second or so I had to see into his soul as he drove past, is that none of those subjects are covered with any degree of satisfaction.
Rather than go on, I am more interested in studying my reaction. The past can be construed so easily. In the middle of the street on a sunny Sunday afternoon I had developed not just a memory of a moment, but an entire failed life story for someone I only had a glimpse of for a short time.
Historic moments are often written with emotion. It is questionable how much of what is available to read is correct.