The past holds all of our dearest memories. But beware of forgetting yourself. This post is about finding the courage to stand on your own feet, as the result of your past, instead of looking to it as all that is good and gone.
For many years, perhaps since my birth and until some years ago, I had a very grim outlook on change. Change means an ending of something you’ve been a part of. Change means letting go of something old and heading into an uncertain and scary future. And if you look into it the wrong way, like I was good at, change is melancholy. However small a change, change is death itself. Change means that the world and life gradually parts from you, and leaves you alone.
That detachment doesn’t hurt just superficially, it lashes out to your very soul. It is a pure form of loneliness, and it has a beauty, as most emotions do. In reasonable quanta, it’s an important part of life. It should be accessed sometimes, I think, for the same reason that we need to preserve machinery. But loneliness is a brittle bridge over chasms, and shouldn’t be taken lightly or made a habit out of.
It is some years past, now, that I started having a more positive outlook on change. That is because the world started acting friendly to me again, and I became more independent and self-confident. Because as a first, the world didn’t just race past. Some bits stayed with me, and evolved with me. Before, there was mostly just me, and old, ended stories I’d been fond of — by this, I mean video games and books; now, there were also friends, and stories I shared with them. Instead of being a lone figure in a raging river, there was now more of a structure.
But despite that, or perhaps because of it, I kept a fondness of the past. I’ve kept records of so many things (digital files, for the most part). After all, what is there to fear of the future when the past is always there to relive? Confronted with the thought of deleting such records, I’ve relived the sensation of change.
I now realize what’s been going on. What the loneliness really is, and why. It is insecurity. It is the fear that, in absence of your surroundings, there’s nothing left that is yourself. It is the subconscious belief that the past is all that lets you tackle your future, that there is no constant you with any worth of its own. It is the anxiety that nothing is certain, that everything you hold dear might, at any time, disappear, completely without reason. It is the lack of hope and of faith; in the world, and in yourself.
Overcoming such insecurity has several stages. You can gain control of change, and gain confidence of your control. But though it might help you further on, that control doesn’t really change things. If your fingers slip, and records vanish, is the past really gone? Will it leave you anyway, despite all your effort? The truth, the way I see it, is that the past is always gone.
We’re forever stuck between the past and the future. You are a part of the world, and some parts of you will stream by seamlessly. They will linger in the present, where you forever stand, in virtually no time at all, before they’re gone and away into nothingness.
But the trick is, I believe, to see the present for what it really is. See yourself for what you really are. There is something constant in us. In the previous paragraph, I presented the past, the present and the future as sections of a timeline. There, the present is but a point. But it is just a model. Another one can be, for example, a bird flying in the rain. Rain pours on the bird. This is the future. It trickles down the bird’s feathers and falls further down, away from the bird. The past. In this new model, the passing of time is just generic drops of water, whilst the bird is something way more concrete. The bird is the present. Or you. Whichever one you please.
What I’m trying to relate, is not just the importance of confidence, but the (abstract and alternative) understanding of it. The confidence I’m describing, is the realization that there is always something resisting the flow of time. For once, you have what some might call a soul, which stands outside all time and guides you. Its shadow in this world, on the present, lies beneath the conglomerate of transitions, beneath your dropping feathers, and it will not leave you. It does not grow and change like the rest. All it does throughout your life, is to get to know the rest of you better. If your conscious self allows that, of course.
Through this perspective, I find myself becoming able to let go of the past, to let go of the control. The subconscious fears it because it thinks letting go lessens what you are, but the opposite is fact. The past has made an impression on the present, and the present shapes the future. All time is thus encompassed within that singular point in time, and it’s all you need.
This note in other words: today, I went through my things and threw away a lot of old stuff. It felt good.