“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
– George Santayana
The most amazing thing about the past, is that it’s just that — past.
Yet, the most curious thing about the past, is the constant tension between embracing it and remaining oblivious to it. To discard the past, is to blind oneself to the future; and to obsess over it, is to blind oneself to the present. I believe this with all my heart.
I carry the past around in my back pocket. I pull it out and re-examine it devotedly, like an old, overly-folded, worn out love letter from a long-gone lover that I just can’t get over. That’s me — sitting on the front porch of my tomorrow, watching the current day roll by slowly like the neighborhood ice cream truck, and clutching the past tightly in my sweaty palms; smearing the ink, and missing the point.
Missing the point hidden in all those pages I’ve refused to read, that is.
As I navigate the monumental task of writing, organizing, and publishing my first book; I can’t help but feel a bit hypocritical — and thus, a bit guilty.
I’m always stressing the importance of facing ones problems head-on to my friends, my colleagues, and my subordinates. I pride myself in taking life head on, good or bad. Yet, as my book begins to take shape, even a blind man would notice the blatant glazing over of difficult topics such as my ongoing battle with depression, my struggle to overcome the trauma of being sexually assaulted, and all that family mess I’ve been sweeping under the rug for all these years.
Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I don’t have writer’s block.
I have escapist’s block. My muse has finally caught up with me after all these years, and she’s got all those memories I’ve been leaving scattered in my path. She’s got them clenched in her fists and crumpled in the bottom of her backpack. She’s got them jammed in her pockets and folded up in the breast pockets of her shirt. She’s finally caught up with me, she’s grasped my writhing body by the waist. She’s wrestled me to the ground.
And she said, “You will own this, and you will tell the tale.”
The problem with my past is that I’ve been burning pages from its binding — editing, re-inking, or just completely whiting out as I choose.
But, the past will always bleed through.
And, if I don’t own it, it will own me.