Sunday, December 4, 2011

the so-called past

Yes, I know -- old farts have a way of dwelling in the past and I qualify as an old fart, but I also think there is some usefulness is acknowledging the fact that, like it or not, the past is bound to rise up and kiss you on the lips or bite you on the any age.

In the spiritual-endeavor realm, Gautama the Buddha was said to have observed,
We are what we think
Having become what we thought.
But leaving aside the airy-fairy and ethereal observations, still, it seems to be true -- the past is something no one can escape and trying to escape or to elevate it leads to confusion and sorrow.

At a very concrete level, for example, 45,000 residents of Koblenz, Germany, have been evacuated from the neighborhood near where a 1.8-ton British bomb was discovered in the Rhine River. The bomb is a leftover from World War II (over 60 years ago) and is parked near a piddling 275-pound American bomb. Both serve as reminders of a time when there was war and that war still has very real ramifications. Both will be defused and both have people heading for the hills.

The war is over, but still there is the war. The past is past and yet the past is the present. A bomb is no fucking joke, but other bits and pieces of the past can be treated with less attentive respect.

The explosive or wondrous past is not something anyone can dismiss. There is no higher or safer ground. There is no distance that can effectively defuse or diminish the past. The past -- little or large -- is now and it behooves anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together to attend to its whispers and demands.

Where did it come from? Where does it go? Whose is it?

When I was younger, my upbringing was, in some ways, so horrific that my mind specialized in a very deliberate amnesia, battening down all hatches when the past threatened to invade the present. I might let a child's affection for cap pistols sail into the sunset of a past, but there were other aspects of childhood that were just too hard to address. So I specialized in forgetting ... and in so doing, gave what I hoped to escape a more enslaving power. And what I did with the horrific I was equally capable of doing with the wondrous -- sweating a straining to hold on to it and in so doing enslaving myself to what I could no longer hold.

Not every memory is horrific or wondrous. Some of it is just little, seemingly inconsequential, stuff. But it all counts towards this right-now typewriting on the keys and this right-now inhalation and exhalation. There's nothing sexy or spiritual about it. It's just factual and worth noticing, I think.

In kindergarten, I had a blue tricycle.

And I'll bet you did too.

No comments:

Post a Comment