The past and my own future.

Saturday night, looking for something to do while watching a
four-hour version of Hamlet, I set to combing through my boxes of memorabilia,
shuffling through old bus passes and identification cards, sorting through
pictures, stacking letters, and dipping into and quickly flipping past the
pages of the journals and planners of my twenties.  I got a lot done.  The photos were shifted to a drawer, the
journals and planners tucked away in a different part of the house and the
letters relocated to one box.  Hamlet was
good too.  I found it engrossing in
places, though nowhere near as engrossing as I found my own past.
Saturday night I was astounded—though really shouldn’t have
been—to discover that the same two problems that come up repeatedly for me
today were front and center in the journals of my previous decade.  I also thought about a great many people that
wander through my synapses only in passing, and only now and then.  After sorting my past, I retreated to the
computer, where I teased out information about those same people. The
information I found astounded and excited me: a previous coworker runs a successful business overseas, a sister of a former friend is a florist, a
not-surprising, (but-still-incredible-to-me) number of my former classmates are
ecstatic about their children, and a person I always assumed to be gay is apparently
On Sunday, I thought about all these people, imagining
myself in some of their places.  I worked
hard to stay in my own present, a skill I’ve been building for some time now,
with still no mastery in sight.  But my
mind zoomed around to various points in the past, to what I imagine other’s
futures are, and refused to settle anywhere near my own present.
On Monday, I hit a high. 
I was in a fabulous mood because I was
not in my twenties any longer.
Though I still have far to go to be the person I strive to be, I had
seen a massive amount of evidence of how far I had come.  The two recurring problems?  They are clearly a part of me and something
to be happily integrated and not a point of weakness.  I felt ecstatic and light and liberated and
happier than I had been in a long time. 
Some part of my conscious nudged me that this wasn’t a good place either
and I had better pull back, but I was unable and unwilling to leave that
Monday night I awoke and stayed awake for hours, thinking
about connections between people, the present, the departed and the long gone
and mostly forgotten.  I wanted to sleep,
to be rested for my day, but sleep eluded me as people from my past wandered
through my brain.
Tuesday I crashed. 
Groggy from lack of sleep, I woke up to my own, ordinary life.  A life that seemed less shimmering and
satisfying than the one I lived only the day before.  Thoughts of my past began to fade and my
present loomed before me, the same as it ever was.  I was exhausted.  I stumbled home from work and into bed,
desperate for rest and oblivion.  I
didn’t sleep very long, but I awoke feeling better and unsure what to do with
this episode.  Essay writing time called
and so I sat down and wrote.
Over the past few months I have experienced this cycle to
lesser degrees again and again.  I fixate
on something for a day or two and it becomes a way to ignore my present.  I think I have engaged in this
pattern for years, with the object generally being a book I can’t stop
reading.  I seem to struggle with the
monotony of day-to-day life.  The daily
shower, the finding of food, the keeping house, the daily grind of the
job.  I want to make these things
rituals, but I push them away, again and again. 
I chide the boyfriend for constantly living in the future or the past,
but I am guilty of escaping from my own present.
I’ve come a long way from the rampant poor choices of my
early adulthood.  I’ve managed to build a
solid relationship, a community of people, a steady income and a home I
love.  But I probably need to pay
attention to the times I still seek to escape all of these things.  This is what I learned this weekend.

One thought on “The past and my own future.”

  1. Wow, very powerful. I am not sure where I would fall if I did a true assessment of living in my present. I think that I do okay. My issue is that I spend my present in worry and stress. Maybe that is actually spending it with a concern about a perception of the future. You have given me food for though!

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