On the past

The following paragraphs were written in January as part of a three-part short story, but rereading them now, after eight months, I realize they were never meant to be part of any story, but rather belonged in a journal entry, if I still kept a journal. I can look at these words now and understand, sympathize, and nod my head in empathy; but it doesn’t hurt, because I don’t feel this way anymore.  

I am sorry. For trying to be something I’m not. For being someone I can’t even recognize. For being something I can’t face. I am sorry. For losing every part of me I found appealing. For burning every carefully woven thread of self worth. I am sorry: three words I’ve rendered meaningless and empty.

One wound at a time I’ve bled myself dry. One lie and one fraction of my soul at a time. If you don’t know who you are, you can be anything you want, but if you only know what you don’t want to be you stand alone in a circle of phantom selves and warped clones.

What constitutes loneliness? Is it the absence of an emotional connection, or the complete inability to relate to another human being? Is it physical or existential? Loneliness, like everything else, is a choice. You abandon yourself, trying to convince yourself that you’re doing everything to hold on, while secretly pulling away. It’s always easier to let go. Giving up: the shortest distance from A to B.

Don’t pretend, we’re all alone here. All leaning on an imaginary warm body we’ve allowed our imagination to create. A.I. is not the future, it’s humanity’s predicament. Artificial Intimacy. In all its glory; in all our demise. The unattainable is always more desired, while the unachievable never really worth our while. Clever foxes on our way to the slaughter house.

We like to exclaim that we know the people we meet. We’ve figured them out. Until they surprise us in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. So what do we mean when we say that we like someone? Which unknown part of them are we really attracted to? The aspect of their personality we would like them to have. And so disappointment originates in the false preconceptions we have constructed out of micro-moments we have misinterpreted, overrated or misunderstood. I’m sorry. For the lies I’ve told to protect the part of me I considered authentic. I apologize for revealing too much when nobody wanted to truly know me.

Earlier in the ‘story’ I write the following sentence which has stayed with me ever since: 

The past is a fickle friend, an unreliable witness, and a worthy foe. 

The reason I choose to dwell on the past today, something we are too often advised not to do, is firstly because I needed some inspiration for a new post (and this served me well), and secondly because the end of summer always signals for me the end of a year, of sorts. I have always associated Septembers with new beginnings; Januaries always seem to fall short (or too predictable). 

We are not meant to live in the past but we are meant to learn from it. It has a didactic value we choose to ignore when it suits us, and an air of superiority we would like to punch in the face when it’s being a smartass. (I laugh as two funny references come to mind: the voice of Homer Simpson exclaiming ‘d’oh’ as we think back to our most embarrassing what-the-hell-was-I-thinking moments, and the fat tenor in Scrubs singing ‘Mistaaaaaaaaake’ right after we’ve willingly allowed our son-of-a-bitch past to repeat itself.) 

They say that you can only make a mistake once, the second time it’s not really a mistake, but a choice. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Dammit. 

I can’t help but feel, however, that there’s something weird about the past. Our past achievements always appear too distant, inconsequential, talked about with a ‘so what?’ attitude. The good parts, the ones worthy of praise, are often hidden away somewhere in a little locked drawer labelled: ‘Things to fall back on when feeling blue’. Au contraire, our shortcomings, bad choices and mistakes, appear magnified and grandiose as they ride on the backs of the dinosaur that is our subconscious, ready to pounce at any given moment of doubt or fear. 

This is where things get weirder though. When dwelling on our monumental fuck-ups, our survival instincts dictate that we blame this other past self for all the shit we willingly, consciously, and sometimes whole-heartily, did. Insert excuses here: _____ . Don’t you just love human nature? 

Would you like to know a little secret, though? (lean in closer)

It was you. It’s always been you. It is you: every.fucking.time. 

The past has always, at some point, been the present. But do not despair, for the gift lies in the fact that we are endowed with the power to change any given moment that follows, and shape it, make it better, or completely obliterate it. We are the gods of our own existence, but in our inebriated life sentence it is often too easy to forget.        

Our past is who we are, but instead of carrying it around on our shoulders, we should take its hand and make it follow us

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