Sometimes I say “a wise person once told me…”, before quoting something someone has said, but what to say when you don’t remember who said it and you have no idea of the truth behind it? You might say, “I heard once…”. Or maybe, “A friend of mine once said…”. But what if you don’t even recall if you were friends? A tricky thing indeed quoting people when the particulars have been lost. How accurately can you quote in that case? If you can’t recall who said it how well do you remember what they said?
Please consider this when I say, “someone I may have known once or maybe imagined in my mind may or may not have said to me, “The past is best left in the past. You can look back, just don’t stare”. I don’t really struggle with this advice as I am more inclined to “dwell” in the future. When I was a child I was accused of daydreaming too much. How absurd is that – telling a child not to daydream?!?
I do, however, look back at times to remind me of where I have been, to measure and celebrate how far I have come, and to take notice so I don’t repeat mistakes I have made. It is my opinion that it is good and healthy to do some reflection at times, as long as you don’t spend the majority of your time there. The other red flag might be if you find yourself visiting frequently and reliving a painful memory. It might be natural to do this through a grieving process, but living in that state long term is not really living.
All that just to intro my trio of trips down memory lane… The first one being last night when I drove by a house I used to live in.
I took my son to his best friends house for some in person video game play and when I picked him up I was a touch early so I drove up a street I spent 9 years of my life on. 97th circle. Rain was softly falling on my windshield and in the darkness of an overcast 9pm the Christmas lights seemed dim and far away, as if they were trying to shine from the past into the moment and not really there at all. As I drove up the street I tried to remember who all the houses belonged to. When we moved there in 1999 it was new construction and all the new home owners shared the excitement of hope for a wonderful future and turning these piles of dirt and concrete and wood and siding and drywall into homes. We knew all the people on our circle.
I remembered some – mostly faces and not names, just shared memories. I wondered if anyone of those people still lived in those houses. It was a long time ago. I found myself more interested in the other houses and as I turned at the top of the circle where my house I barely gave it a second glance or thought. There were two remarkably tall hedge trees on either side of the steps up to the front porch and they looked odd and out of place with the lack of any other landscaping.
I didn’t wonder, until just now, if my iris are still there, or any of the other perennials that I had planted. The house looked dark and I found I didn’t have any sadness left in me for those years or the house. It’s just a house, after all. I also did not feel anger or happiness or regret or anything else for that matter. I just drove back down the street as if it was nothing. That’s strange.
The second trip was this morning when I heard the song “The Winter” by CAKE. After I moved away from 97th Circle, I lived on Margo Street, which was just a stones throw away and still in the kids’ elementary school district. I saw a post on FB that was a call for video submissions of people singing the song, or rather singing a few lines of the song. I signed up to participate and was assigned a section of the song.
I subsequently took my camera and tripod down to the playground at the school and did several takes of those few lines plus a little blurb about me which was also supposed to be at the end of the song clip. It turned out ok. Everyone who participated ended up in the video, some for entire lines of the song, and some – like me – for a fraction of a second (a fraction of a fraction – at 3 minutes and 50 seconds actually). Now every time I hear that song I think about that time. It’s good.
The third trip in my trio came later in the day today as I continued to pack various things at my house. My office is full of stuff that I apparently have a difficult time parting with. I keep saying I am going to go through everything and get rid of a bunch of stuff I don’t need, but then I see something (or rather a hundred somethings) and just wrap and stack them neatly into boxes instead. There were two boxes in the bottom of the closet in my office that were packed, likely, two moves ago and have never been “unpacked”. First was 97th circle, then Margo, and now I’m at Edgewood Blvd. Those boxes are full of pictures and for the life of me, I’m not sure what to do with them.
I’m sure I have looked in the boxes a time or two before, searching for something else, but there’s really no reason to get them out. Not only do I have thousands of printed pictures, but I also have backups of years and years of digital pics on CD. That was back before memory and hard drives were cheap. I pulled the boxes out and opened them, if only just to confirm that the labels on the outside of the boxes were still accurate. They were. I thought for just a quick minute about all those years, a brief flash of my children as infants and toddlers and first days of school. Then, just as I had turned at the top of the circle last night and drove away, I put the lids back on the boxes and carried them down to the dining room to where I am stacking all the boxes. That was that.
I guess I’m good at taking random advice from people who may or may not be made up in my own head. I don’t seem to have an issue with looking back into the past and I don’t have a problem with staring or staying too long there. I think the fact that the present moment and the future are just too damn good right now to worry about the past. I’m in my happy place, as natural born daydreamer and very much looking forward to all that is yet to come.
Peace and Love,