Who you are is a palimpsest of who you’ve been. Do a little digging under our carefully curated characters, and you’ll always find the embarrassing scrawl of our immature hand. We’re right to deny the existence of our past stupidities. Soon enough, we’ll deny we ever existed, merely sprung into existence; a parthenogenetic miracle full-birthed with wisdom and insight.
But, still, it’s all there.
Every dirty little bit. Every shitty opinion, and half-thought-through life-hate. Every petty grievance, and shameful failure, and craven desire. They’re us. They’re me. They’re the gratefully forgotten graveyard we built the foundations of ourselves on. But try to take them away.
There’s a neat trick: trying to pull the tablecloth out from under a carefully set life without disturbing the current meal we’re eating, with its just-so opinions, and hand-picked, locally sourced attitudes.
My eyes have so long been on the past that I find myself stumbling constantly into the future, unsure of what I’ve just tripped over until it’s behind me. There is a temptation here to think that I’m saying I live in a state of wistful wishing for the things I’ve done, places I’ve been, and people I’ve known. No…no, that’s not it. It’s only that the future frightens me, and the present discomfits and enrages me. The past is comforting only because I never have to do it again.
Nothing even remotely fits.
It all sits on you in a way that suggests your own failures with ever bind and catch. Imagine an ill-tailored suit that constantly tells you that the problem is that you’re the wrong shape to match it. That suit is my skin. That skin is my life. That life is the reflection if myself I catch for a fluttering and silly instant in the eyes of people around me, talking at me, looking for their own reflections.
Of course, there are exceptions:
The mercurial perfection of a great moment on stage.
An intimate laugh with a friend.
A bit of art that pulls me out of myself.
Lying in the arms of a beautiful woman, and smelling her hair, strange and grateful.
And others; and none of them, at the same time. Tomorrow, I’ll feel differently; and the day after, the same.
Keep a picture of who you used to be close to your heart, and look at it often. You could learn a thing or two from yourself.
But you probably won’t.