It’s been an interesting week. Arctic air has descended upon this part of the world and seems poised to hold us all in its grasp for a bloody good while. Though I’ve been busy with lots of music, including the Charlie Brown Christmas shows (here is a highlights video I put together from the first show), I’ve been yearning recently to stay inside next to the little space heater and go inside, into the deep dark of my remote personal past.
I’ve been digging out and reading my journals from nearly twenty years ago.
It’s a somewhat harrowing experience.
Have you ever done this? It can be kind of crazy-making.
First, I’m thinking, “How could I have been so stupid?” both then, for doing some of the thoughtless and foolish things that I did, and now, for wanting to relive it!
Second, I’m wondering what’s happening to my brain. Here I am, reading about all of the minutiae that had me in utter thrall – and some of these things, even after I read about them, I still don’t recall a single thing about them! Time is a thief whose pockets are lined with the hopes, fears and adventures of a million billion souls.
I have done some things that I do remember quite well and that I probably should wish that I hadn’t done – regrettable actions of youth to be sure – but regret is a depressing waste of energy, while learning from one’s mistakes and shortcomings is certainly not.
I don’t want to be afraid of what I’ll find. As icky and uncertain as I feel looking back, I am kicking at these sleeping dogs because I want to face the skeletons head on, to really own it all — the egregious lapses in good judgment, the petty grudges I shouldn’t have held, the arguments I shouldn’t have had, the friends with whom I should’ve stayed in better touch. It’s all made me who I am, warts and all. There’s no shame in it – forgiveness of one’s self is the final hurdle one must clear.
Yep, it’s all me, or at least, my former self. Another fascinating thing to consider in all this is: at the cellular level, I literally am not the person I was when I scrawled those words in 1996. Every sinew, every drop of blood and layer of tissue has replaced itself anew in the years since that young girl set down those words. On the one hand, this is a comforting notion: I like to think that I’m now healthier, wiser, and more sane and rational, forever getting a new lease on this business of living and trying to be a good person. On the other hand, though, it’s a slightly unnerving notion: if not “me”, then who wrote about those things that “I” did?
Me. Who the hell is that?
This moment, this instant, is all I have. So, shouldn’t I just let those sleeping dogs lie?
Perhaps, but maybe they should be a little uncomfortable as they do, and be ready to stand at attention, to confess to the messes that they’ve made, to impart the lessons that they certainly have at the ready. Sometimes you just have to get out of your bed and rearrange it before it’s good to lie down in it again.