Past You, The Real You

It’s a curse of living: we exist for the future. Often, that means letting go of the past, and from the surface, that makes sense. Why dwell on what you cannot change? It’s a paradoxical thought, then, that while the past can’t be changed, it can continue to change you as a person, even as you plunge through the present and into the future.

Consider some notes from “past me,” circa three years ago. There is an honest and unabashed quality that I admire in these notes (not to say that I have a habit of admiring my own writing; on the contrary, I often toss what I consider “bad,” which is nearly everything, but this serves as a reminder that not all bad writing deserves to be left in the bin).

Notes on “Existentialism”:

“Kafka approaches this problem with dry humor. He embraces the absurdity of living and presents the idea that life is only as meaningless as one choses to make it.”

Notes on “Names”:

“Pan was the Greek god of the wild. I’m not wild. I do like nature, though. And the sky and the stars. My first and last names are two of Saturn’s moons—one inner and one outer moon. I sometimes lie down on the pavement outside at night and look up, thinking and searching for my name up there in the universe.”

Often there is a thought that strikes me during my contemplative moods, and it’s that we already possess all the answers to our problems, both external and internal. They exist in some unknown region of our minds, where thoughts are callow and unrefined and truthful, not knowing what it is to hide. Essentially, they are our “past thoughts,” pushed into the shadows because we consider them naïve and basic. But if we unearthed them? Would those brutally honest thoughts be swallowed by the callousness of the world? Would they be scorned by our layers of complexity and developed logic? Would they ever be able to avoid being dissected by theorists and put on display by scholars? I wonder if it would ever be enough for us to exist, simply, or if we are an incurable species, hurtling into the future where golden visions and the unknown await.

Today’s post was inspired by this quote from Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles:

“An Earth Man thinks: ‘In that picture, color does not exist, really. A scientist can prove that color is only the way cells are placed in a certain material to reflect light. Therefore, color is not really an actual part of things I happen to see.’ A Martian, far cleverer, would say: ‘This is a fine picture. It came from the hand and the mind of a man inspired. Its idea and its color are from life. This thing is good’.”


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