Monday, June 11, 2007

The past, the present, the future

"... if you do not plunder the past, the absence feeds on you."

I've been reading and re-reading this line from the most recent Michael Ondaatje book, Divisadero, and trying to make sense of it. (If anyone is curious, I'm loving this book. There are some who think Ondaatje is over-rated, but I adore his work. And his new novel is, so far, a wonder.) Mostly I'm trying to place that line within the context of my current life. It seems especially pertinent, given recent events. I don't feel comfortable divulging the details, but they have shaken me a mite and made me question the strides I thought I had been making of late toward improved self awareness and finding peace of mind. Which leaves me wondering: where does my past fit in with my present state of mind? (This theme actually plays a big role in the new Ondaatje. Proof, yet again, that books seem to find me at appropriate moments of my life.)

I've been accused of being overly nostalgic, of perhaps dwelling too much on the past to the detriment of my present. (The future is never much of a problem, given that I'm an unapologetic and inveterate day dreamer and fantasizer...) It's true, I do think about my history, mostly about some of the decisions I've made, about how my actions have (sometimes adversely) affected others. And while I don't necessarily think this is unhealthy, what is problematic is the guilt that usually accompanies these remembrances.

It's only been in the last couple of months - yes, it's taken me pretty much my whole life! - that I've started to absolve myself of guilty feelings. I've started to forgive myself, to not dwell negatively on "misdeeds" (if indeed decisions I've made and the actions I've undertaken can be considered as such). Hell, I even found some inspiration from the most recent Spider Man film, when Aunt May tells Peter that the hardest thing to do is to forgive oneself. I've tried taking that sentiment to heart, which has resulted in a largely positive and upbeat frame of mind. I'm the product of my past experiences, and when I reflect on those experiences I realize how blessed and lucky I've been. I've had some terribly difficult emotional moments (who among us hasn't?), but I think I've come out of them stronger and, frankly, a better human being. I've tried to learn from my experiences, both the good and bad.

Truthfully I'm not sure the point I'm trying to make here this evening. My emotions feel a little raw tonight, but I wanted to get something down, especially since I'm in a heavy contemplative state of mind. Maybe I need to think through what exactly what's going on in my head, to catch the necessary fragments and weed out the moral of this story. Stay with me. (I also want to write about facebook and reacquainting myself with long-lost friends, but that's for another day. Yet it's also related to my feelings of living with one's past.)

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