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we are our pasts


We Are Our Pasts

October 11, 2014

With time being linear, as far as we know, there is no way for any of us to go back and change what has already occurred. The second that we just lived, or yesterday, or what happened twenty years ago, is in our rear view mirror. We might be glad of that, or we might desperately wish for things to be back the way they used to be. Some people look upon the past with regret, thinking of missed opportunities, or thinking that we should have made this decision instead of that one, taken the right hand turn rather than the left. There are some of us who would change very little about our lives, and these people might be considered the lucky ones; they made what they consider to be the right decisions, and more power to them. But I think these people are few and far between, because living is always a learning process, and who among us doesn’t want to correct certain errors that we made? But then, of course, there are things that happened in the past that were unavoidable. They took place not because of things that we ourselves did, but rather they were things that occurred that we had virtually no control over. These things could not be changed, even at the time that they were happening. Regardless, they became a part of our lives. They became a part of our personal histories.

There is no escaping the past, because we, the living human body that we live in, the sheath of meat in which we walk around, are the direct result of everything that has come before. The aches and pains that we have now can be traced back to ways that we behaved. Our scars, whether physical or otherwise, tell the story of where we came from and what we went through. This can be both a curse and a blessing. A blessing, in the sense that it can be a direct reminder of what has come before, and a curse for the very same reason. Because if we view our pasts with nostalgia, we enjoy looking back. If we regret things that we did, or things that happened regardless of our control over them, it can be painful to recollect. Letting go of the past, if things that took place there were painful, one would think, is an important therapeutic step. There are many, many disciplines in the world that teach about the healing power of forgiveness, of closing old wounds and dismissing from our minds the painful and traumatic events that we still recall so vividly, for our current health and wellness. There’s something to be said for that. But strange as it may sound, pain and an unwillingness to forgive those who have wronged us can be just as beneficial. It is said by some that love, and positivity, is the most powerful force in the world. That to forgive is divine, and to let go of a painful past, that, after all, no longer really exists anywhere but inside our own minds, is a good and productive thing to do. But the fact is that hatred, and anger, and an unwillingness to forgive, can be just as focusing and just as cleansing. To dismiss something from our psyche that makes up such a big part of us is easier said than done, and there are some things that are very simply unforgivable. That is what some people must be made to understand. Revisionist history does not correct, and it does not alter. What happened, happened, and in some cases, forgiveness is not only impossible, strangely enough, it would do more harm than good. People¬†are their emotions. To separate ourselves from the strongest ones is to lose a part of our identities. So for all those who did wrong in the past…and you all know who you are, don’t you…don’t expect forgiveness that you’re not deserving of. And for all those who would rather go right on hating, right on despising, for as long as both you and the objects of your scorn live, have no regret or shame of your feelings. To forgive may be divine, but to refuse to is human, and that’s what we all are in the end, aren’t we? Human beings, the sum totals of our feelings, whether those feelings are happiness, and gladness, and appreciation of our condition…or sometimes, the unwillingness to compromise, and the inability to ever truly forgive, or forget.



2019 Brings Things Full Circle

April 11, 2019

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen fit to write on this blog. That’s because I came to the conclusion some time ago that I receive limited catharsis from doing so, and also because, since I’m supporting myself as a freelance writer now, I’ve developed an aversion to writing anything for free. Why should I post on the blog when I’m not being paid to do so, and I am, in essence, expending energy for no reason?

The only reason I’m checking in is because I’m between paying jobs at the moment and I’ve been ruminating on events that are taking place in 2019. This year there will be the Walnut Hills Class of 1999 High School Reunion. I attended Walnut Hills, and though I hated high school I readily acknowledge that this institute challenged me academically at a time when it was probably the best thing for me. I needed something to distract me from my parents’ divorce, and two classes in particular served me well in that respect: English and Art.

I never had much aptitude for art, but it’s obvious now that the seeds of my writing career were planted back there in English class, hashing out Romeo and Juliet, The Sun Also Rises, and The Joy Luck Club. I was the brooding loner in the black hoodie who took the contrary view of whatever anyone was saying. Arguing, spitting venom, was a useful outlet for me.

Now, twenty years have gone by. I neglected the chance to attend the ten-year reunion, but maybe I’m more sentimental now, or maybe I just have some degree of morbid curiosity about the remnants of my class. Perhaps I’m just going to see who turned out to be gay or transgender, or who gained the most weight.

To be honest, I don’t completely know what my motivations are for going to the reunion. It’s something I feel compelled to do, so I’m doing it. I learned a long time ago that to question my motivations too much is futile. At the very least, this trip back to Cincinnati in August will present me with a chance to see the bowling team for the first time in ages, the storied D.O.A. who won the League Championship at Madison Bowl by beating a bunch of guys twice and three times our ages.

2019 calls back to my mind thoughts of who I was twenty years ago, what seems like a lifetime and a world away. In the intervening time I’ve grappled with my demons, gotten married and started a family, (of pets, no human children, thank god), and I’ve come to appreciate a kind of mental equilibrium that I once thought it impossible for me to ever achieve.

A lot happens in twenty years, and who knows what will happen in the next twenty? I think that might be part of my reason for wanting to attend this little soiree. I feel that twenty years further down the line there will be even fewer of us Walnut Hills graduates from that fabled class than there will be this time. It becomes a matter of percentages: the more time passes, the fewer of us are left standing. And maybe this line of thinking is part of what draws me back. It’s the thought that I want to show my peers that I survived, that I walked through the maelstrom and I’m still above ground.

Few of these people might be my friends, but we do share some history. I guess, come August, we’ll get a chance to talk about it, and maybe that’s reason enough for me to fly back to the city of my birth for an event that might be auspicious, or perhaps an unmitigated disaster. Time will tell, I suppose. It always does.

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