At times, I fear for my existence. In several situations, my judgment has been guided by the fear of losing what I truly am. Such a threat, real or imaginary, can approach me from many borders, and each of them has its own defender in the court of my judgment. In conversation with the other parties of the court — the selfless and the neutral — they make up the actions and choices I am able to make. I want to talk about one of these borders and its defender. It is the story of one of the pieces of me, its nature and its threatened existence.
“Only the present exists.” Believing it is one of the best ways to move on after a painful memory. It is true, but from a certain perspective. All the truths about life cannot be seen in a single perspective. The full picture is arranged like in a kaleidoscope. That’s because we are arranged like kaleidoscopes. So I’m not saying you ought to pick out the pieces you like best and stitch them together into a patchwork of the world you’d like to see. No truths change, but some are true only to parts of you.
There may be universal truths as well, I suppose, but they don’t tell us what we need to live. Perhaps we’re all based on the principles of science, both those we have and those haven’t figured out yet. I don’t think so, but even if we are, we are simultaneously unable to process those truths into something with the insight and humanity of simple common sense. And even in the most concrete science, complex phenomenons need their own explanations different from the basics. Everything has its scope. That is why the apparent ambiguity of truths about life never troubles me. We are glued together by so many different complex workings, their scopes will not overlap, and they cannot understand eachother. But we can understand all of them and act on each of them where it is valid.
So, only the present exists, but here’s another turn of the kaleidoscope that makes the next point clearer. This turn resonates deeply with other actors in the great scheme of my being, and it says: “only through the past do we exist.”
The point is about growth. I came into this world with some parts and a machinery ready. Then I grew and became what I am through interacting with my surroundings. I involved myself, dealt myself out; I spread my roots, and they brought back nutrition. On that, I grew, reshaped, created myself. I still do.
Inevitably, I became what I fostered on. I didn’t just take and exploit wherever I went; where my roots are, I am. This is how nature designed me on many levels. In the vast principles of nature, giving is taking, living is dying, and growing is shrinking. We are allotted no more than what is, and so is everyone else, before, during and after us.
I am what I am. But not all I’ve fostered on, is physically present. My roots go further than this world, because this world wasn’t the only one I grew in. Effectively, I’m not entirely of this world. My roots cannot be denied. If it wasn’t for the vitality and life that definitely courses through me, some parts of me would be just as real as the stories they were created in. This has provided me with a unique insider perspective.
Aren’t stories real as well? Their conflict with our science is irrelevant, for the value of a story lies in the emotions it brings. All that stories are, all the wonder we envisage through them, is concieved right here, in ourselves. So perhaps the only difference between wondrous stories and real life, is that real life happens to have chosen a seemingly boring configuration. We’re able to be so much else, we can life and feel in so many other ways. Without the stories, I might not have been able to know that. Knowing the stories, having the imagination, I life with the frustration of what is and what isn’t real. My own extended existence, incompatible with the confines of our concrete cave.
I despair because I’m a dreamer trapped among scientists and businessmen. But in moments of clarity, when I can break free, I realize that stories have seldom been so prominent, so numerous. I’m definitely not the only one existing around here. Many of us know what we are deep inside, and how much more that is than what we have been able to be in real life. That is the very reason we have stories in the first place.
I will always have one foot in other worlds. It’s what makes me, me. These worlds, and the past, is one and the same. For all the stories I have grown in, I found in the past, and the past is also but an imagination, now that it has gone. It might not exist physically any longer, but mentally, the past is a very real place, where we find many of the things that define us. Whatever we are.