Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about the past- the favours it’s done for me, things I wish I could change, or things I’m glad changed because it made me a better person and a better professional right now as a result (even though I’m not always the best of professionals, despite constantly striving for perfection I’m not sure I’ll ever really reach, but that’s another story…) and things that I’m willing to admit here because I can, and I have no real reason not to.
In my writing life, and my personal life, the past has always been interesting to me. There’s a lot of power and gravity and magnitude of what has come before and it can be either an indicator of what’s to come, or a warning of what should never be again. And sometimes I look the past right in its three-headed beasted face and I am able to say that I’m not afraid of the hideous beast that I’m looking at anymore. And words to no one, words just to me, words read by strangers, are my way to stare it down, because I quite frankly am left with no other option. The past has always been something I’ve explored in my writing because so much can happen in a life that now ceases to exist, and it shapes so much of who we are and what we do, for better or for worse. I remember the first time I walked into a high school and the popular kids still intimidated me. In fact, kids intimidated me. So much so, I could barely speak to them. My jaw was locked. I was frozen in a space of watching them at a distance that I could comfortably handle, but I was mentally and physically, then, unable to go any further. I think of that now and I can’t believe I made it through that and that I’m where I am now. It’s unreal. We all live so many lives. Some of them are stagnant and stoic, but most of them aren’t. They come and go, they mar the shores of the beaches of our lives, then retreat back into their ocean waters. They come and find us where we sleep but once nobody answers the door they’re knocking on they don’t come to call again. But maybe someday in a distant life when all over lives have passed it, it will come back and it will be just a pebble that you can skip across the lake.
I don’t care about what people think of my preoccupation with the past. I don’t care that it seems crazy or nonsensical or that it doesn’t serve a purpose because what’s right for society and what we always see in memes and movies and books is the idea of “forward movement”. Life isn’t a plot graph, though. Life isn’t a linear story. Life is a cyclical, dynamic, ever-changing, loop-de-loop roller coaster of sorts that stays on a track and is thrilling, and continues to be so even if we have seen and felt those same thrills over and over again. We sit and watch life soar by as a swirl of blurred lines and colours, then we line up for cheap thrills again. And if the coaster falls off the track.. it was worth it. I can revisit whatever I want. I can turn off the bathroom light and close the doors and summon Bloody Mary and tell her, “I’m not afraid of you” and watch her faded image dissipate into nothing. I can do whatever I want with my past and my memories. They’re my little bag of treasures.
My past is an incredibly rich and prosperous one in some lifetimes, and an incredibly dark and traumatic one in others. All of those things are valuable and I remember it all. And when I stare into the faces of the past, those faces on that great multi-headed beast that grunts its ugly grunt and gnashes its teeth and wails and whistles and demonically cackles, I can be glad that it still has all of its heads, and that no one has done anything to sever them. Perhaps three heads will ultimately sever themselves.